Rooms filled with hanged people. Rooms filled with relics and bones. Rooms filled with old photos and artifacts salvaged from fire and bombs. There is hardly a place to sit among memories, so, please, stand. Place your hand over your heart and face the past.
Everyone was stealing everyone else’s hat, and everything else we could: a bag of meat, a can of gas, a truckload of bricks. Just redistributing, we laughed. What is mine is mine. What is yours is still mine. Besides, who would count the beans, the small potatoes, or the pig’s legs?
But we knew we’d be shot on the stadium if caught red-handed. What about magenta-handed, or maroon-handed? We passed by the guards, shook hands with them. Mine were pink; yours were orange; theirs were purple.
The strong wind blew off all the street signs. After the storm, we woke up in a different city: all the streets and avenues, named after famous figures of the past, had new names like The Socialism Victory Boulevard, Steel Workers Street, or People’s Place. The building signs were mixed up as well: the school had a butcher sign; the toy store was full of old shoes; someone’s house was now a kindergarten; and the grocery store was selling nails and screws. Confused, we walked the streets for decades, unable to find our way. We finally got used to the new names, but, one night, the wind came back and changed the street signs again.
Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, and many others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013). More at cserea.tumblr.com.