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Poetry

Crematorium

By Marta Petreu
Translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin & Christina Illias-Zarifopol

I enter the room beside you. Take off my overcoat. Drop my handbag on the bed
With bewildered gestures I take off my glasses
Indecisive I stand fidgeting. I love you and feel frightened. I watch you
waiting for you to decide what you’ll do
with this object (warm slender vertical)
that I am

 

We’re talking together. I watch you. I do not touch you
It’s warm and we go on talking together. You do not touch me
And I feel death as it slipping into the room-it is here
it is now
it is between us-
I feel how with its chisel it disfigures
the features of my face maims my sex my breasts
meticulously sculpts the bitter curve of my mouth

 

It’s warm. I become thinner and thinner. In the room
there’s fog a hot haze it smells burnt it smells of man
(Oho. I inhaled the smoke from the crematorium
the day of your death
in another lifetime of ours
not very far away-at Auschwitz
A survivor I washed my hands tidily with soap
made of your flesh
The violence
the guilt with which I love you thus derive from that distance
If you won’t touch me now
I understand: it’s your turn)

 

Vertical like a pendulum’s rod I let myself be worked on by death

 

Ohoho. It’s hot like in a crematorium. It’s late. It smells of smoke
It smells of carbonized human flesh
If you won’t hide me now
I understand: it’s your turn

English

I enter the room beside you. Take off my overcoat. Drop my handbag on the bed
With bewildered gestures I take off my glasses
Indecisive I stand fidgeting. I love you and feel frightened. I watch you
waiting for you to decide what you’ll do
with this object (warm slender vertical)
that I am

 

We’re talking together. I watch you. I do not touch you
It’s warm and we go on talking together. You do not touch me
And I feel death as it slipping into the room-it is here
it is now
it is between us-
I feel how with its chisel it disfigures
the features of my face maims my sex my breasts
meticulously sculpts the bitter curve of my mouth

 

It’s warm. I become thinner and thinner. In the room
there’s fog a hot haze it smells burnt it smells of man
(Oho. I inhaled the smoke from the crematorium
the day of your death
in another lifetime of ours
not very far away-at Auschwitz
A survivor I washed my hands tidily with soap
made of your flesh
The violence
the guilt with which I love you thus derive from that distance
If you won’t touch me now
I understand: it’s your turn)

 

Vertical like a pendulum’s rod I let myself be worked on by death

 

Ohoho. It’s hot like in a crematorium. It’s late. It smells of smoke
It smells of carbonized human flesh
If you won’t hide me now
I understand: it’s your turn

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