The Romanian Riveter: POEMS by Marius Aldea, translated by Ilinca Gradea

NELUTA

neluta buried grandpa in the ground
neluta ate grandma’s days away
neluta swung his knife to the left
and to the right, stayed hidden.
kissed gypsies on the mouth
broke their instruments

neluta played the leaf lute
on the hardest nights
he angered god
yelling in the rain
under the apricot tree in front of the house
lord you’re a brother of mine
when god struck the tree down
neluta took it on his shoulders
as you would with a drunk friend

neluta stole from the c.a.p
        from his neighbours
        from his parents

neluta sank the axe between the calf’s horns
and finished him off to amuse foreigners at the fair
stuck his sickle in a watermelon lifted it to the sun
then let the juice trickle down his face
neluta smoked bare chested in the shed
and spat out the blood from his gums

neluta never had a woman
and never wanted kids
neluta drank water just once in his life
neluta slept in the fields with wolves

when he came home drunk
he got beaten with a wet rope
and growled at grandpa
if you weren’t my dad i’d slit your throat
neluta buried grandpa in the ground
neluta ate grandma’s days away

he’s old now
he’s alone knows that
he was always alone
and whines about the pain

laughs at the chained dog
soon he’ll plant his fork in him
cause he doesn’t have any more food to give
neluta will plant his fork in everything
and will talk between the cracks of the earth
with grandpa and grandma

neluta asks me if i got my baccalaureate
he knows that i got my baccalaureate ten years ago
now he’s old but he still keeps his mouth away from water
grabs his phone laughs and yells dreadfully
i called you this morning
why didn’t you answer
i called you boy
but the world knows neluta is alone

lord you’re a brother of mine
neluta sticks his fork in the ground
neluta talks through the cracks
with grandpa and grandma

he knows he’s alone and that no one
hears him
***

born in the countryside dead in the city 
i once had a truly beautiful day
woke up at dawn
drank brandy on an empty heart
and started watering the garden

at noon the buckets were half mud
half water
my feet sinking in sludge
trousers lifted to the knees

i looked into the well
it seemed like

i’d loosened the collar on the dog
poured in his broken bowl
half mud half water
drink i told him

the sun had disappeared
the snow had settled quickly
it covered the rope
with which the animal was tied

a white cow
snowflakes melted on its hot muzzle

i took the shovel and loaded the burlap sacks
with snow from the front of the house
threw them on my back
carried them to the pit
44 i counted by the end

one by one i emptied the sacks in the dry mouth of the well
it was already dark out when i rolled up
my trousers to my knees again

that night the dog slept outside

By Marius Aldea

Translated by Ilinca Gradea

Read The Romanian Riveter in its entirety here.


Marius Aldea has published two poetry collections and co-created the award-winning ‘The writers are on Facebook’ anthology. A physical theatre play based on his poems and directed by Andrea Gavriliu premiered in 2020 at the National Theatre Marin Sorescu.


Ilinca Grade was born in France, but has lived in a number of different countries, including Singapore, Canada, Scotland. She translated the play, The Snake’s Outfit, directed by Andrea Gavriliu, into English. She is currently working on the translation of Sinistra by Marius Aldea into English and French. She currently lives in Bucharest.

Category: September 2020 – The Romanian RiveterTranslations

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