Claudia Serea

She eats men for a snack

She eats men for a snack. She carries them in a Ziplock bag, dips them in ranch dressing, and munches on them like carrots. Mm-mmm, tasty. I can hear the crunch from across the room. It makes me want to eat some, too.

On Pont des Arts, they locked their love forever and threw the key in the river. We’ll never part, they swore. Eternity will find us embraced like the padlock that hugs the bridge railing with metal strength. Unless, of course, the bridge collapses under the weight of the locks. The maintenance crew rushes to clean up the mess vite, vite. Someone named Jean-Paul carries their love away in a wheelbarrow full of rusty padlocks and throws it in the city’s metal recycle bin.

She paints her mouth a glistening red. She smiles all the time. By smiling, she disguises her feelings. She could work in customer service. She could answer the phone in a smiling voice or greet the guests at the door: Hi, my name is _____. How may I help you today?

Even at night, she smiles, a disguise for her dreams. She doesn’t give anything away. Her mouth keeps mum. She smiles at the world, and no one knows what she hides.

Sometimes she doesn’t feel like talking. She goes an entire day without saying a word. Like a lizard in the desert, her skin turns the color of sand, and she becomes a chameleon perfectly camouflaged in the color of silence. She listens to the sound of her own thoughts, the way the lizard listens to the sound of sand grains rolled by wind. Millions and millions of sand grains on the move. If she keeps quiet long enough, she can hear the sand dunes shifting shape. By next day, the landscape has changed, and she starts speaking again.

October dips the maple trees in cold air and turns them into candied apples. She licks the brilliant red. Sunshine syrup glazes the street outside the deli where she buys a fruit salad. I can’t stand that much sweetness, she tells the girl at the counter. The girl smiles at her with rotten teeth.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, and many others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013). More at cserea.tumblr.com.
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