Sinaia, Romania

Maya Catherine Popa

Corridors of calves      cataract of mountains

lands pulled up by the navel      then abandoned

they say         by a dry god      on the occasion of a drink.

These, the Carpatians my father saw each morning
not seeing the film of forest from the sky.

He played the same trick for six years,
dressed the classroom skeleton in old clothes
so the teacher would tousle his hair.

Some things you never punish.

Some superstitions turn their backs to god:

      keep a pelt on the roof to thwart
      the falling stars,

      your mother’s hair under floors
      so she won’t bury you first.

In Sinaia, my grandfather kept wild dogs
in case a man tried to steal one of his daughters.

Watered by barks, the wrong crops grew.
The hen’s eggs turned a vicious red.

Some things a god will punish twice.

Now, not a single steward stays,
not even for American dollars.

That there are things we will not let money buy us
is a trick the stomach plays
staying full on water.

A god folding his couch the night he made

the Atlantic      a glass tossed

between rough stones.

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