among the keys by Mariana Dan translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and the poet


(the last neighbor)



the scarecrow’s shadow 

darkens the city

even the last neighbor is gone –

the hour is crying over its minutes,

the fire engine

over its lead soldiers


“she’s in your soul,”

I am told – which rests in someone’s hands

and no one goes anywhere

who in someone’s hands

is the other, nothing more than no body


the one above

is the one behind the mirror

you don’t see the she

you see only yourself

the I

the nobody

who only sees


“but she knows me

by smell”

she smiles from behind the mirror

with my smiling face

and takes me for what I’m not,

here under the covers in the small iron bed,

arched like a cyclist

over the wheel, a fetus

floating around

the blood-filled tube


the last neighbor is gone –

the clock ticks, ticks:

“who is nobody?”



(the anthill of tears)



the carriages taking the last

passengers to the station –

my shadow, too late, cast upon other shadows,

with my short arm I loved you without bounds


a tired apple

fallen on the anthill


I saw the stone wall

as the reflection of the shadow

of the windfall


I was the reflection of the apple –

my breath left behind who knows where:

under a bridge,

under a hand bruised

by the cold of a glittering shadow

on the thread of mirrored water


then I saw

the shadow assume a form

as it entered the hill

the anthill of tears,

so essential to sight –

“why must I go away?” 



(counting shoes)



a pebble in a shoe

a pea

is the poem,

a nutshell on green water

is the eyelid,

a rent-a-car on the ganges

in the bedroom


we talked to get past

yesterday and tomorrow


turn on the lights

count the shoes

no one’s in the room


fallen leaves

peer through the window –

where are the trees?



(in the shape of an egg)



among the keys

the same moon like a pared fingernail –

the cradle of the chosen ones


with which key do you unlock the door

in the shape of an egg?


on white – the white name:

fear of god

the one above

in the rabbit’s tail


the chosen one brushes his teeth

and sends blue letters


as for me, I travel with my religion

to the shade of the birch tree

under which I buried

my cat



(from inside)



we’ll make love in the parental

darkness until the end

of your chest’s groaning

and of all deemed worthy

to be taken as answer

or question


looked at from inside

the world has no eyelids

red snow spreads

among the dandelions

of our dreams’ wildest storms –


the fighting cocks sleep

their heads cut off



(the lost snail passes)



together we make up herds –

the progeny of hamlet

and ophelia

floating, her veil

in nets of pooled wisdom

where the lost snail

passes far beneath the blackbird’s song


finally I’ve learned

the circles of the sky

through which planes glide beyond hearing

the white wool line

on which we hung our groans


and the warmth in the clothes

we took off

to wash carefully


walking on water –

only our clothes

only the laughter

the waves brought back

to the silence of the space

inside me



(at the half-centenary)



suddenly you hear your name spoken aloud

in the air astir with spirits –

fear runs down the staircase

in kafka’s castle –


we follow the ones in ashen shoes

riding on the shoulders

of someone whose face

won’t stop interviewing

his own head


we search room after room:

two minutes ago we celebrated

a half-centenary –


for feast after feast we slaughter

suckling pigs and lambs


in the prophet’s eyes

happiness flies by unnoticed –

only the mountains shiver and fall –


who is cut by the blade,

who pierced by the bullet

of nothingness?


the unknown butterfly

no longer can flutter its wings –

my love, you never blink

when you look at me


you meander from room to room

holding a chamber pot

you open doors and eat

the apple from the pig’s mouth –


that miniature earthen globe

an image of the heaven

envisioned by sigmund freud

Back to Archives

Mariana Dan

Adam J. Sorkin


© 2005-2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas