The woman in the other room
(for Crista)

From the volume Don't Walk (Rosu pentru pietoni, Editura Charmides, Romania, 2012) by Ciprian Macesaru
Translated by Claudia Serea

it's a hot night,
it smells of alcohol and demons,
I left the window open
and take small sips of whiskey.
the woman I love sleeps in the other room,
I think of her as if she's at the end of the world.
the music plays softly,
the demons furiously lick my guts.
the neighborhood is full of people sitting at the windows.
this poem is some sort of love confession,
I write it on a post it and will stick it on the fridge.
tomorrow, while I'll sleep,
the woman from the other room will read it
and will grow wings.


you take such good care of me,
despite the pack of wolves that lives
in your pupils.
you arise from the other room
as if you just arrived from a long journey,
you jump in my arms and I feel
like in those mornings in the north train station
when you came back from bistrita.
you stepped off the train car sleepily, with tousled hair,
and your small hand sneaking into mine
told me that everything was ok.
the scared bird in my chest calmed down,
I carried you home carefully, as if you were a priceless trophy,
threw you onto the bed sheets and let you shine.
the apartment was coming to life,
my earth started spinning again.


doubt looks me in the eyes.

I hold my white t-shirt on my shoulder,
it's night and I'm cold, I should get dressed.

the white t-shirt sits softly and gently
on my left shoulder, warming it.

you kissed me. "I'll set the alarm clock at 8, ok?"
"ok!" you left, the door closed
with a strange sound. you are the woman
from the other room, the woman
I love.

tomorrow at 8.
hmm, you didn't look so sure.

"we'll take a bath and go back," you said,
and we felt damn good.

to travel a few hundred kilometers for a bath!...
see, we're not dead,
we can still fly off the handle.

a bath, and we'll freshen up,
we'll get rid of the ridiculous feathers that grew on us.

but doubt stares at me
and I fall asleep with my ear to your door,
listening to the prayer in your breath.


I saw you before you opened your eyes,
you were so happy. so this is really happening,
I told myself, and I got out of the bed heavily.
Outside, the black car was waiting,
dusty and covered in bird droppings,
it, too, wasn't used to such starts any longer,
such take offs in wet and fresh mornings,
mornings with a lump in your throat,
that flood you with their enthusiastic light
to the tips of your nails. I sped on the highway,
the car was trembling excited at 130 km/hr.
one of our tender words
sat quietly on the board and started shaking
happily its head. the sea was closer and closer,
spoiled rotten, life was meowing in our pockets,
everything was within reach.


our hearts were breaking waves,
they had regained their voices.

trembling like stained glass,
our chests were desperately touching,
as if for the last time.


at night, we started toward bucharest
pulling after us, like a train,
a piece of the sea.
you leaned your head on my shoulder,
nina simone was playing on the radio,
the highway was firmly cutting dobrogea in two.

when we entered the concrete thread ball,
through its foggy lights,
on the streets like back bones
that rose from the earth's spines,
we smiled, resigned.

we didn't know if we came back home.


my hands on your shoulders.
in the night's tree hollow,
we turned our heads.

a soft wind touched the window
and we imagined the sea sighed.
red-eyed, we cut out in the dark
our mental projections.


the window didn't light the city any longer.
night was a black dress
under which your legs rustled.
our neighbors were banging in the radiator pipes
bothered by our silence

Ciprian Macesaru writes poems, interviews, prose, and reviews for journals such as Litere, Arte & Idei, Romania Literara, Mu (Spain), Poesis International, and others. Since his debut in 2007, he has published four books of poetry, most recently Rosu pentru pietoni (Don't Walk), Editura Charmides, 2012), and the novel Superhero (Editura Cartea Romaneasca, 2012). His poems were included in Cele mai frumoase poeme (Best Poems) of 2010 and 2011. He is the founder of the journal Accente (Accents) in Bucharest, Romania.
Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in 5 a.m., Meridian, Harpur Palate, Word Riot, Blood Orange Review, Cutthroat, Green Mountains Review, and many others. She was nominated two times for the 2011 Pushcart Prize and for 2011 Best of the Net. She is the author of To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervené Barva Press), Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada). She also published the chapbooks Eternity‚Äôs Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and With the Strike of a Match (White Knuckles Press, 2011). She co-edited and co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011).

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