by Carmen Firan
(translated from the Romanian by Claudia Serea)  

I invited solitude for dinner.
At seven p.m. sharp.  The top button
with the name erased, though untouched for a long while.
The third door on the right from the elevator.
The doorbell doesn’t work.  The mat is worn bare.  By time.  By nothing.
It drizzles.  Deliberately.
Thin rivers trickle down the windows.
Fog and cold.  Like on that fall morning
in the mountains when you tied your boot laces by the bed
and pretended you had to climb the peaks
with heavy steps
where no one was waiting
where it was nothing to do
only the gray sky split by my tears,
thin rivers leaving marks on stones.
It’s past seven.  The candles are now shorter
the wine dried in the goblets
and silence whistles like a bullet
accidentally fired.

And here she comes.  I hear her rustling.  I jump at the door.
I press my ear against the cold wood.
A mountain grows in my chest.
The flesh is cold, too.  Tired, the plates.
She arrives, sticks her head through the smoke drapes.
Caresses my hair.  And passes.

The way love passes
like summer
like the fox under green grapes
its fur turns the color of amber
so you can’t see it through the tall grass
stepping lightly
to the other side

one morning I grew alone
more than in all the years
I shared with you
my arms shot through the nightgown
long like bean stalks
through silk ropes woven up to the sky by a haughty spider
I grabbed the moon and hid it under my bed
in the box with photos from the beach
I looked for you through heaven and hell
the sky was deserted
or maybe I am

February is not a whole month,
but decapitated time
another day or two and the city would slide into the void
minor poets read in frozen bars
ex-lovers or future abandoned women flock together
pecking dry crackers in dimly-lit outskirts
with heavy souls and unwound gloves

February is not quite a complete month
another day or two
and in the morning we’d wake with dreams not dreamed yet
and the un-risen sun wouldn’t know how to set


Carmen Firan, a poet and fiction writer, has published twenty
books including poetry, novels, essays, and short stories in her
native Romania.  Since 2000, she has been living in New York.  
Among her recent books and publications in the United States are
Rock and Dew (Sheep Meadow Press), Words and Flesh
(Talisman Publishers), and The Second Life (Columbia University
Press).  Firan is a member of the Pen American Center and the
Poetry Society of America.

Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have appeared in Field,
New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, and elsewhere.  She
is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently
To Part
Is to Die a Little
(Cervena Barva Press, 2015) and Nothing
Important Happened Today
(Broadstone Books, 2016).  Serea
co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, New
Jersey, and is the founding editor of
National Translation Month.      

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 11, Number 1
(Spring 2016)

Copyright © 2016
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.