Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My father, the great stone statue (Claudia Serea)

My poems are my mistakes:
let me make them.

My friends are my mistakes:
let me have them.

So what if they are the sons of workers?
So what if they are not refined
and well read?

You can't keep me
in a tight-lidded jar.

Don’t you see,
I’m a five-alarm fire,
not a firefly.

And I don't wanna be a doctor,
I don't want to be
a doctor so you can show off
and climb the social ladder,

and if you need a doctor in the family,
I'll marry one.

I can't wait to marry
just to spite you,
the son of a peasant
just like you,

you, the great stone leader
on your pedestal,

with your raised hand
pointing to the brilliant future
only you could see.

I lived in fear of you,
in a dictatorship
the size of our apartment.

I was afraid
but fought you anyway.

At 16, I waged
my own revolution,
the one of all the girls
in the world.

I chanted, screamed
and waived my flags
in the kitchen.

You were my huge Lenin statue
I tied with ropes,
pulled down,
and dragged away.

Don't get me wrong,
I always wanted to be like you,
to be you.

I wanted to have your poise,
your walk,
your sure foot.

At 27, I needed to prove
that I've grown.

I broke the news
over the steaming food:
I got the visa today.

A cloud entered the room
and sat at the table.

And you, who always wanted to emigrate,
you couldn't ask me to stay.

You crumbled before my eyes.

You, the strong one,
distant on your pedestal,
broke down to pieces,
to dust.

A simple man
about to lose his child.

You cry too easily,
I said.

I took your tears with me
and carried them 5,000 miles.

I owned my suitcase
and my mistakes.

My heart was a flapping flag
I rose in the new land

to claim it,
to make you proud.

Her latest book of poems, The System, recounts her father’s trials as a prisoner in the Romanian gulag during the 1950s and 1960s. An interview with Claudia Serea is here.  You can also purchase her previous book here, Angels & Beasts.

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