Counterfeits

how many words do we need to make ourselves clear?

in cubicles and cells papered with thick letters
we throw each other all-purpose slogans
air balls that slam us in the chest, knock us down
flying erratically—
awkward counterfeits in the absence of genuine wings
used only in commercials for organic chickens
raised by fake farmers
somewhere between Earth and Mars

for how long can the orphic whispers distract death
from its course over bright cliffs
where trembling silhouettes are the only thing you can see?
how loudly can we wail smothered inside these four walls?
the most secret thought is as comfortable
on the therapist’s couch as in a gas station
where they sell roses by the dozen,
the most private feeling flickers on computer screens,
no metaphor is listed on the stock market of words
camouflaged in barrels of solitude

on an old leather map
the rivers of childhood stay their course swollen with dreams

sorrow draws the masks from the face

Translation of "Disimulări." Copyright Carmen Firan. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2009 by Adam J. Sorkin. All rights reserved.