p
o
e
m
s

But it was I who held your arm
as the three gravediggers hammered
your father’s narrow coffin shut.
It was I who drank every pour
of your mother’s vișinată, sucked
the liquored meat of each sour
cherry from its pit, swallowed
even the floating worms.
But it was also I who disobeyed
the two saggy-breasted, callous-
handed babas in head scarves,
who, after asking if I knew anyone
at the funeral, scolded me
in Romanian for placing
twelve marvelous white roses
on the grave and not in the village
church, where they’d live longer,
be admired by the living. It was I
who wiped the vișinată vomit
from your face, wiped it from
your arms and hands with my hands
in the back of the backyard before dark.
Daily I wipe everyone else’s piss
from public toilet seats. And daily
I let traitors kiss my cheeks
in public—but tonight,
in my sleep, I’m finally arriving
in outer space. I’m in orbit with
my husband, whom I’m leaving
for no one. We’re breathing air
that’s just air and I want to go
back to our speck on the sliver
of earth out the window, but
this is now and I am here,
so tonight we’re in space
for years, and this may shorten
my life—but what a view!

Tara Skurtu is the author of the collection The Amoeba Game. Her work appears in The Kenyon Review, Plume, Poetry Review, and elsewhere. 

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 October 1

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