Flavia Cosma

Ground floor

 

Camouflaged

under golden, sad autumn manes,

the sidewalk remains as damaging to health, bones, blood, flesh,

as ever.

The passage leads us out, under the fiery gazes

of the young hotel porters who,

trying to understand the meaning of passion,

judge everything from the height of their twenty years of age.

 

It doesn’t matter now,

the street begins two steps further on,

with its noise, traffic lights, people in disguise rushing around,

the arrows indicating the way to the airport,

the liberation.

 

A body, transformed into something gelatinous, virtual,

lies motionless on the asphalt.

It stops the traffic, prevents the circulation, surrounded by cars and sirens,

by hysterical screams.

A hospital is just around the corner—

surely has a morgue;

police arrive in a hurry, firemen, ambulances;

I almost forgot: this is a one-way street. 

A yellow ribbon sways, descending 

along the rain of leaves

from the sky

and otherwise, as far as the eyes can reach,

a sea of indifference.

 

In the vicinity, the ocean,

spews again and again onto the shores

carcasses that have not found their place

in the depth.

First Floor

 

The room is narrow, rectangular,

commonplace.

—Why did you reject me?

—I? I didn't reject you.

It was just you, changing destinations, travelling somewhere else.

A lie ensues.

—Why did you reject me? Twice you rejected me.

Innumerable lies follow suit,

And the hand outstretched, and the puzzled bird

knocking its body against the window,

the irregular heart-beat, the shallow breath begging

for a sign,

for a word totally different from the others,

solely one word

able to open the window towards

the scorching-hot sidewalk.

Fifth Floor

 

Bewildered, the man knocks on other doors.

He can't pronounce a word;

fear has paralyzed his throat.

 

From time to time

he remembers the seventh floor,

the things he was never able to say to me,

and howls

of a wounded beast

pierce the blind night

far in the distance,

waking me from a prolonged waiting,

from my heavy faint.

Seventh Floor A

 

Exotic wine throbs heavily in my temples.

Farewell thoughts lay scattered on the carpet—petals—

Don’t look outside,

the window calls you with its screaming

its mouth wide-open,

 

You mustn’t approach, stay away,

don’t get near, don’t look out.

The trees’ golden manes in the distance

hide secret traps,

hide death.

Hold on to the bed-sheets that still keep

the scent of his naked body.

Take shelter under the white shield,

think about it all, think of familiar, domestic dresses,

children, mothers, the dead and the living,

think of circumstances.

Do what you have to do

but don't look outside, don’t get close to the open window,

stay away from the dragon-mouth of the street that

solemnly presides over the great crossings

while shouting guttural, obscene senseless words.

Seventh Floor C

 

—Don’t waste your money,

Don't come to see me again;

It would be a shame and besides,

my situation is very complicated and I'm also very busy.

Kiss me today, but don't come see me anymore.

 

—You mean you don’t want us to meet again ever?

—No, I didn’t say that,

but life hits me from all sides,

a blow today, another tomorrow,

don’t come back, it’s better this way.

 

The nausea spreads, covering with its white tentacles

the beddings, the wine left in glasses,

the expectations.

 

I wanted to find out, and I found out

clearly as the late afternoon light,

here in this room where the stifling autumn still transpires.

I know everything now

and what I don't know

doesn’t really matter.

Third Floor

 

The third floor is an integral part of the seven months

of absence,

better said—it is the sum of the seven months, from which

we deduct

these four hours of ardent kisses,

sweet caresses, hugging and praying.

Our feet are as cold as ice;

—In this manner comes death, --so they say—

always from the feet up,

always towards the heart. 

The ripped past, split in two, searching for

an impossible love.

 

—I am tired, let me draw my breath.

Undressed, my beloved

seems skinny, terribly skinny.

He remains a shadow of the man I once knew as being mine;

a hidden sorrow saps his being to the core,

it saps my being too;

fear of something very bad happening

stirs up interior storms,

but we contend with false explanations, uttered in passing,

knowing they are false.

Wild thoughts are about to become words on our lips,

and the smile-kiss gets painted all around

with a black ribbon.   

Seventh Floor B

 

Talking to the white wall

I try to penetrate through the immaculate shell

into the past, until the hour, the minute, the place

where we were

four and a half months ago.

 

I try to rediscover on the empty sky

the colored soap-bubbles

that surrounded you then

as a miraculous, fleeting halo,

giving you the appearance of an angel-demon,

with your hair undulating in the breeze,

floating unwittingly towards me.

 

Nothing was left of all that past:

only a white wall

that I scratch and bite,

only a man in a hurry watching me through his eyelashes

with his steely eyes,

having fun observing the course of time through my hair,

laughing like a child who rips the wings of a butterfly

one after the other.

 

Perhaps the new and profound wrinkle between his eyebrows

joins like a ditch painfully dug,

this waxlike mannequin

to the man of flesh, skin and soul

he was

only four months and fourteen days ago.

Ninth Floor

 

On the ninth floor

the air smells mildewy and stale.

 It’s hotter and hotter,

the room ferments.

On the roof, above my head,

phantoms chase one another

in broad day-light.

The window that cannot be opened, faces

the ugly and deteriorated back-side of the

neighboring building.

The high wall seems ready to fall on us,

all things are derisory and the dirty bed

leans on one side.

 

I'm not staying here.

I have to run, disappear.

I can't breathe this poison; a blackout overwhelms me

and as the window doesn’t open,

the shortest path towards liberation

is to descend the steps of the nine floors

one after the other.   

flavia cosma.jpg

Flavia Cosma is a Canadian writer, poet and translator. She is also a professional photographer and producer, director and screenwriter for television documentary films. 

 

Flavia has published poetry, prose, children's literature and travel memoirs. Her books are translated in many countries and languages. Her poetic work is the object of study at prestigious universities in Canada and the United States. A recipient of several international literary awards, Flavia Cosma is the director of the International Writers’ and Artists’ Residence, Val-David, Quebec, Canada and of the Biannual Writers’ and Artists’ International Festival at Val-David, QC, Canada.

www.flaviacosma.com

flaviacosma9@gmail.com