Claudia Serea

Four Prose Poems

In the house of lace and sepia photos lives a woman with a cloud instead of hair. She wears a bomber high up in her hair cloud. The pilot is her lover, always on her mind. On the papered wall, a clock in a cloud among clocks and clouds ticks his time away from her.

All night, I tried on huge Russian hats. So tiring. I tried long fur coats, large animal skins, and towering hats so heavy I couldn’t move. I went for a walk, but there was no path, just freshly-dug earth clinging to my boots, making them even heavier. Then the earth parted, and I almost fell in murky waters. I grabbed a tree limb and pulled myself out, soaking wet from the cold river. My long, wet fur coat was so heavy I couldn’t carry it, so I let it go. My Russian hat had fallen. Good riddance, I said, and headed out of there.

The end of the world dragged on. All night, she smoked with the door open. In the yard, spring was limping, a man walking back home after the war.

I was again in Romania, this time in a huge deserted warehouse, walking among crates of boxes and bottles stacked up to the ceiling. No one was around, except a large polar bear sleeping in a corner, red baseball hat over his face.

                “Are you the Coca Cola polar bear?” I asked.

He pushed the cap off his eyes.
                “Well, yes, I am,” he answered in a deep belly voice.
                “And where is the other polar bear, the little one?”
                “Don’t know… Somewhere around here, probably sleeping.”

He paused, than started again:
                “He’s all grown up now, fat, and unemployed. This is Pepsi country.”

We had just moved into the new apartment and started to unload boxes: clothes, books, dishes, stuff. Some towels caught on fire. The flames jumped to the blue blanket I got from your Mom. You rushed to put it out and took the burning box outside.

Your sleeve! Your hand! I yelled, running after you.

Then I saw in the hallway two preachers in long blue robes delivering a message from God. They smiled at me, but I couldn’t hear what the message was. They kept walking.

I tried to close the door, but it was crooked in its frame. Or the wood was swollen, or something. The hinges and lock weren’t working, so I left it open.

Of toads, snakes, and frogs

Tonight, we drink and talk about toads and magic frogs. Green frogs, loud frogs, and poisonous toads warty like old witches. Frogs you can carry around your neck to cure epilepsy, or that you could swallow alive and cure whooping cough.

And six- or seven-foot-long house snakes, white as milk, that come to suckle cows’ tits. All winter, they tick and rattle inside the walls. And the Glykon god-snake with a lamb’s face, human ears, and a lion’s tail. He makes women pregnant and protects against plague.

And, in the TV room, a toad climbs the lace curtain, as if we called it by name. The women squeal and call the husbands for help.

Victor scoops up the toad with a dustpan and covers it with the broom. The toad jumps, almost gets out, and Victor flips the dust pan a couple of times, as if he’s making pancakes.

Open the door! Open the door! he shouts, and, in the commotion, his pants loosen up. The toad jerks, and jumps, and Victor runs out of the house, pants falling, flipping, flopping the toad.

Did you kiss the toad? we ask Carmen, Victor’s wife, laughing.

Yes! she says. He’s my old, fat prince.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, among others. Serea is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), 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, NJ. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month. More at cserea.tumblr.com.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home