Andra Rotaru

The Walk

Translated from the Romanian by Florin Bican

 

here, people walk one behind the other,

their backs supporting the animals’ rumps.

knees level with their arms.

a placid procession. the people’s backs are

running with white streams.

they’re flexing their pecs and the fluid bursts forth.

the prosimians suck at the cascades of milk.

skilful fingers stretch out the white mass

all around nostrils.

it’s the milk-fragrant wind trail they follow.

 

a torso akin to an eye, round and white. moving forth in slow motion,

along the deep trenches. along sharp crunching pebbles.

hard earthen nodules. hard wooden nodules.

all around, expectant torsos.

all ready for advancing, bodies next to the earth.

 

the torso, white and round.

through it the roads are visible from afar.

hills covered with pebbles come into view.

a discarnate vale and, where it comes to an end, further vales, neverending.

the torso is writhing in place. the lemurs are the first to slither by.

muzzles awash, they sniff at people’s kneecaps.

their mouths close upon them. they bite.

warm milk oozes forth from the kneecaps,

the vales overflow with white curdled waves.

a soothing noise. the lemurs are sleeping,

bodies afloat, halfway into milk.

their fur grows with the abundance of milk.

(first published in Lemur, Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, 2012)

 

At night, lemurs and humans glide closer each other

Translated from the Romanian by Florin Bican

 

young bodies steal

past old bodies.

the fragrance of milk changes over to a more pungent fragrance,

the fragrance of wine.

the prosimians sniff. they bite at the wrists.

they bite at the arms that have carried them all that way.

 

(first published in Lemur, Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, 2012)

 

Calls himself lemur mostly on autumn days​

Translated from the Romanian by Florin Bican

 

I ask him what that means and the answer is easy:

whatever relates to dropping some candy

into some hand. I ask him again and he’s like:

today I have run into this powerless beast.

extracted the candy out of my mouth

and shoved it under its muzzle, cupped in my hand:

lemur. and then? what did it do? its hair was not yet grown.

it had wooden knots at the joints of its feet.

what next? it breathed into my face.

it smoothed the piece of candy with its muzzle – it didn’t care for it.

after retrieving it,

I felt it all different on my palate.

its taste was akin to its smell. it went on breathing,

spreading wreaths of white steam round it muzzle.

 

it recognizes me by my white torso.

it lies down in the new grass I’m leading it to.

it’s got big blue eyes. it is not yet a lemur.

it goes no matter where. we could have walked to the forest

that ends in a chasm.

he said: it’s your choice. I was choosing at random,

unaware he was going to change into a lemur.

we’re walking downhill. he follows me smiling,

in a black fur almost making a cover.

we are running, I whistle. we can’t see a thing. we call out.

the sound fades away in the apple-tree orchard.

in the chestnut-tree orchard.

in the orchard with houses on the point of collapsing.

crouching down feels so good. at diminutive height.

we are breathing the warm air now leaving our nostrils.

the lemur leans down on its front paws increasingly harder,

leaning towards me as it mirrors my gesture.

 

that white torso between us.

that’s the torso he’s anxious to feel.

on the right, a small heap of rotten apples,

on the left, a small heap of ripe apples

 

at night he’s afraid of the body. in the dark, he tells me,

he can see just whatever is white.

he tells me my eyes would be doing him good. as he departs,

he is rubbing his hands in the black dust.

raises them to his eyelids.

the blue eyes rush to my blue eyes:

we won’t see each other again evermore.

 

(first published in Lemur, Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, 2012)

 

Andra Rotaru is an active cultural jornalist and organizer of literature events. Published books: „Într-un pat sub cearşaful alb”, Vinea, 2005 (debut) – awarded The National Prize Mihai Eminescu; The National Prize Tudor Arghezi; Iustin Panţa Prize; Bucharest Writers Association Prize; nominated by the Writers` Union in Romania for the debut prize; Included as one of the best contemporary poets in the national research of “22 Magazine”; “En una cama bajo la sabana blanca” (the translation of the debut book into Spanish), Bassarai Ediciones, Spain, 2008; „Ţinuturile sudului”, Paralela 45, „Lemur”, Cartea Românească, 2012; awarded The best poetry book at Writers` Gala. Was resident of ArtistNe(s)t, Tescani, Romania, 2010; CEC Arts Link in USA (2011), Writers` mobility in South-eastern Europe “Absolute Modern”, TRADUKI and Goten Publishing House, Macedonia; International Writing Program at the University of Iowa (2014); Annual Outreach Fellow of the Center, Iowa University (2014), Ragdale Residency, Lake Forest (2014).