Clara Burghelea

Hard memories of soft things

Mental maps saved me from distress back in NY, also spitting cherry pits in paper bags, on the Mineola train, a Romanian girl lost in yearning bouts, all I could shovel in the empty purse were drafts of ugly poems that would never bloom or hatch, I would pick a word bone and chew on it for hours, pray there was redemption in the sweet marrow, the one I used to suck on, back home when mom made beef broth, later I had it roasted in a Union Square pub, courtesy of the MFA end-of-year party, where we all crawled out from our shells of silence, collected sweat on the back of the thighs, while trailing stubbornly behind eyelids, wishing for something dark to swallow us, this is how first readings are, when your mouth is full of seeds, and you wander inside the cave of language, no telling whatsoever of the word skins you may shed, it was snowmobiling in the scorching summer, a bunch of low-key cardinals in a crystalline world, before I knew it, I watched the whiteness of the static moon outside the train window, retina catching the unfamiliar, one tongue folded in slumber, the other one aching to belong.

In our dream band, on the bass marimba:

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her second poetry collection Praise the Unburied was published with Chaffinch Press in 2021. She is Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.

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