Clara Burghelea: Three Poems

Plucked glances

These cord tote bags were my everything when I was living in Long Island.
My aunt in Rochester had dozens of them from Lancôme to Victoria’s Secret
and kept them piled up in her impeccably ordered basement, twice larger
than my rented room in Mineola. She treated me to lavish meals and shopping
trips and I never mentioned my eat-once-fast-twice days in NY, her gifts were
no match for poor grad students who saved for used books and practicum Friday
trips to Varick St. She gave me my first designer dress which I still keep all foiled
up in my Romanian closet, for the book signing tour I will never take, except none
of the totes matches the wannabe black lace and the bruised poems, the way their
bodies leap, node to node, spiked with anticipation. The tongues of longing speak
louder than thunder, heart walls upon heart walls, cast their lengthy shadow.

To the god on watch

This corner of the afternoon is mine and the eyes that won’t leave me alone.
I am robbing you of the sweet pleasure of washing the world. In blood, tears
or brine from the Black Sea. I know a Romanian song about love that tears
the flesh open, a mouth that chars every syllable, every milky daybreak tumbles
down choking these October skies bearing the weight of your smile, a knot of hunger
in every breathing throat and the drizzle that follows me everywhere. Go blind, now.

A day spent curled around your face
This achy October, heavy fruit thundering
down. In the grass, brown apples, warm scent
of spoil. Clouds smeared half-way across
the treetops. Among rotting sweetness,
in the tall grass, your chest that rises
and sinks unnoticed, my fingers floating
across familiar flesh, getting lost under
the brittle foliage. The way days oxidize,
tiny summer flakes coming off everything.
Who can trust the hours? The ticking two-timing
hands that push us farther away. Hard to imagine
what lies ahead this dangling numbness, light
growing softer, then deafening dark. In between,
bodies plastered to one another, awaiting winter.


Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, she got her MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the International Poetry and Translation Editor of The Blue Nib.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s