Story in the late style of a city
There are elusive signs in everything. Lilac trees
spring up like giants, color and scent, a language
of survival in the absence of fruit. The streets grow quiet
for a few hours, before the bustle of women bargaining
prices for mackerel, rainbow trout, lemons, olives,
before bakers snap their fingers, fill the window
displays with éclairs and profiteroles, in rows as precise
as a Securitate platoon. Stillness is substance in this cathedral
of symbols: in the winter, a frozen river, in the summer,
clusters of wine-red cherries weighing down branches.
Such deceptive plenty everywhere. We didn't need meat, or sugar,
or an appetite. Come summer, the markets brimmed, come winter,
we ice skated through blizzards, through snowflakes delicate
as goose feathers. Our skin peeled, we had frost bite, we knew
that kind of happiness. Armies marched and civilians marched.
Tanks came through the city in silent convoys. The roads were covered
in snow, in trash, in petals, in grief. In times of misfortune the soul
makes tenderness of its wounds. Chooses its analogies.
Today we are a still life of silver winged fish, dressed with persimmons,
watermelon. Tomorrow, a tableaux vivante of hunting rites.
The city belongs to no one in this crescendo light of day.
Today we wake up children, tomorrow we are the state official
who once invited a beggar in his loge to listen to Carmen,
and the beggar wept, saying he had never rested on such soft seats.