Two Poems by Monica Manolachi

WOMAN IN A BLUE DRESS

When I wished for a real revolution, I laid my voice on the line.

When words became meaningless, scattering to the four corners

of the world, I wanted to be a sign in the blinded crowd. They

had gathered with clubs around me and I shouted at them fearlessly:

What are you all doing? I made the step, decisive and honest,

I held the bag to my chest, as if it were the world itself, the baby

I wished to have, my summer bag, my raffia handbag, my summer bag

like a shield against fury and fright. My body, a motif for heroic acts,

the greatest achievement of my life, the photo of an unspoken truth,

animated, magnetic, resistant, stood in the street, fearless, and I

watched them fight for its cerulean blue beauty like lads playing

a football match. I crossed the street when no one dared, when

they chanted on and on: Hooligan! Loafer! Knocked down as I was,

I tripped death up. Lying on the ground, I lectured them, nothing hurt.

Underneath my summer blue dress I wore their blue dress

for a while too, bruises on my back, my hips, my arms.

The proof of cowardice had to be preserved in an exemplary body,

hit again and again, silenced and forgotten for 25 years.

After 25 years, children wanted to know who the woman

in the blue dress was, who confronted brutality all alone, who

struggled for them barehanded, who kept quiet when they were born

free, how the tangled skein of violence unraveled and how

it rolled across the borders. A photographer got lost in the maternity

of history among the probes, dilators, pliers and scoops.

After a long transition interval, hysterosonography proved to be useful.

For the foreign press. On the company gazette. I gave birth

to democracy, this living gift, I gave birth to her as mothers do,

with pain and tears, with patience and love. I have been a metrologist

for years, I have cared for measure as much as you did, Eminescu,

Arghezi, Stănescu, Brumaru, I have kept time and sung in the square,

I have often weighed up my wish for poetic freedom in one scale

and the unjustified beating in the other. Today I step with dignity

among sacred monsters, baby in my arms and bag on my shoulder.

.

.

.

 

 

FREEDOM ALLEY

Wandering together on a long quiet alley,

one hundred new benches here and there,

we stroll from one to another, sounding out

the same word, freedom, carved on the wooden back

of each bench, each time in a different language.

Like a snake, the kilometer of strange signs

winds its way between rare prison flowers,

cigarette butts and children on scooters.

Lighting poles with solar panels

salute us and check the time. Behind us,

the strangers. They murmur names of exotic flowers.

We stop, they pause as well. We speed up,

they too hurry. We turn to them. Nobody.

Only pigweed and bindweed.

Night is falling, the dead gather in the park.

They come from all directions,

silent, familiar, ethereal,

leaving their rucksacks full of stars in the grass.

They draw near the water and drink.

Some chat over shared memories.

Others make gestures from far away

like bright kites still in the sky.

Some will see us home,

open windows, doors, drawers, laptop,

and read the messages they sent to us,

recalling how much they loved us.

Truth is a bridge between our world

and the next world, a bench

where no word is written and you cannot sit.

Lighting poles intone foreign words

in languages we have never heard of.

We walk past pigweed and bindweed,

we listen to the incantation of the unseen,

wake up at night when we dream of them

and they, bewildered, clamor:

Who are you? Who are you?

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About the contributor

Monica Manolachi
Monica Manolachi lives in Bucharest, Romania, where she teaches English and Spanish at the University of Bucharest. She is a literary translator and a poet. She has published numerous articles on contemporary poetry and prose, and is the author of Performative Identities in Contemporary Caribbean British Poetry (2017).

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