PUNCTUS CONTRA PUNCTUM
From time to time, we stand between
a wolf and a dog. We germinate
inside tightly zipped handbags
falling into a moment of muteness.
We are expected to root,
given the choice of death.
A step closer, a level higher
in a battery operated game:
nobody comes in
without prior agreement.
The recoiled bow springs out
unleashed by a howl.
At a steady pace
we catch a moving train.
We queue at the airport,
pretending to watch
a lunar eclipse.
We fear sharp objects.
Passengers hold boarding passes up,
flags in a moving crusade.
All windows are half-open, but nobody
looks out. Heat seals varnish layers
of mist over my homeland.
We have outgrown the raincoat
tripping over someone’s thoughts
in the two-minute stop between stations.
At odd times, the planes take off.
Letters drop from above
on the neighbouring gardens,
seeds growing tall in silent parks.
We remove luggage tags, barely notice
the music of a mid-air explosion.
Blades of grass stand ready to shoot.
It starts in broad daylight
with a study in curves.
I think about pencils,
sharpened by oblivious schoolboys.
Many hours of preparation,
of building vessels before
she hissed ‘I shall pray for you’, leaving.
I laugh, turn the machine off,
move closer to anger.
Hands, metal, ankles, metal, eye. Metal! Nerves.
I practise human squares and circles,
with benign indifference to
losing something irreplaceable.
I sit up to hear crowds above the laundry lines.
Another boat has capsized
and many tried to escape through a
recently painted door.
At round-up, the children are shot first.
It takes some time to clear the lower deck
of empty milk bottles.
Around the island, pitch black.
Fishing nets return empty.
Mothers’ tangled hair gets caught
in a fight with the waves.
The fireflies are tired of moving.
They wrap wings around barricades,
to keep the pace down.
A man singing in an alleyway
knocks over a lost rubber doll.
I go back to sleep holding tight
on to my own breast.
Copyright © Maria Stadnicka 2018
Winner of 12 national Romanian prizes for poetry, Maria Stadnicka is now based in Gloucestershire, where she has worked in radio and TV and now teaches sociology and psychology. Her work has appeared in International Times, Dissident Voice, and in various journals and literary magazines in Austria, Germany, Romania, Moldova, the USA, UK and Australia. Her latest slim volume The Unmoving (2018) is published by Broken Sleep Books; previous collections are O-Zone Friendly, A Short Story about War, Imperfect, and Exitus. Her work previously appeared in Molly Bloom 15.