10 Poems
by Andra Rotaru,translated by Florin Bican


he smears butter all over himself, the texture soaks into the wrinkles of the flesh;
it takes a while until the quickened pores
gape even wider apart,
until their wombs erupt with new flesh,
fervent flesh,
until the torso merges
with the organs.

face to face we are watching each other –
the blood crust connects us
all the way to the wrists
lips longing to be there –
for a moment of vagueness or two.

you do not exist, I have told you today;
I do believe you are an incarnation
of the states of my psyche; don’t laugh,
by tomorrow we’re split,
I love you,
you know it, at times.


there was not enough room inside me for the sliver of pill
not to crunch; I’d take it each morning,
for a spell we’d be watching ourselves in the mirror:
I’d circle my neck with my palms
and study the way the 75 mg make their progress
along the trachea. the diminutive hump on the base of my neck
was reminiscent of a hill excavated in midfield

it ceased resembling a landform
in a matter of minutes. within that particular time span
my throat did not weigh more than 75 mg.
about ten percent of what a prosimian might weigh.
with one chunk of animal swallowed each
morning, all these might well shift
into a state of excessive wellbeing:
extreme anxiety levels. it’d know it was right:
looks like an orgiastic-anxious syndrome.
imminent relapses would be made up for
with a further few mgs.



you’re unripe,
in a beautiful house, after a long, long time. it has barely come to an end –
the filling up of empty objects with full ones, they’ve been barely removed –
the old edges. in perfect cleanliness, their subdued laughter,
their walking on tiptoes. at each of my footfalls they rear
their heads. they are stretching themselves on my chest as the heart straightens itself
like an old man in a desert. that’s where I stay with them when
the midday sun is shining at its brightest. that’s where they also come,
their muzzles warm, ask leave to change my unbreathable air.

I breathe into their nostrils, they carry on the breeze.
here’s where the arid lands come to an end.

that’s where you show up in a lovely house I have no time
to roam. nor time to wait, to lay my hand
upon your heads, to feel the tender texture of your fur.
I only have the time to move along, to close the brand-new doors,
to sprinkle the ancient dry edges
with fruit squashed in my fist, as if it were
the craving flaring up for tender bodies 


Birds in cages

when the fist movements started he was barely breathing. he was told
that those were the gestures of a caged bird. two were black,
crawling down. other three were black, holding tight, pushing
each other’s body.

they were making noises. breathing hard. saying something jerkily
when tissue clang to other tissue flesh began to fall. the smallest
was already naked. agonizing, and her limbs still swayed. pulling
the robust leg of a white bird.

soon above her there was a massive canopy of bodies. rising
instantly as she began waving.

when here there was not anything else, when here there was not. turning his back
when the bodies rushed in again. covering him,
then besieging him like in a cage. when pushing into one, the other moved

now he imitates and fists stand. setting down a fake decor of bodies.
their spasms passing in his spasms. their breaths are heard
directly from their lungs. inseminating his lungs, opening


Plaster cast

whenever there is nausea, there is a body, too.
it can no longer be removed from this one.



in of all interdictions, he just wouldn’t stop. colors his hair white,
wears three quarter pants. wouldn’t answer, just barks.
he’d occasionally sit in the lap of a grownup. he studies his
moves. he should burn every note
on the loss of childhood. he mutters: such blasphemy!, while
hiding his body.

their hands move in unison, they’re scratching a slate –
the child’s body’s at rest, no harder than chalk,
the man’s body is tense, mimics the lines traced by the child.
his eyes are tied, each of his touches chaotically follows the noise.
it’s neither the right nor the left: nothing but lost skills 
can’t say what is out there. an instant extension of the body
a misunderstanding a primitive writing. his jaw ruminates
calcium and water contraptions akin to a plaster. the scratches
the man made on the slate extend into the child’s tissues,
plummet into the innards

round about stands a newly-built city.



he cannot know and hence he doesn’t answer.
it looks like one of those dangerous games
with animals waiting on both sides
of the barbed wire.

for him they go by different names: first death,
accident next and then murder.
in their wake: suicide, abuse, transformation.

whence I come, they have been
packed with care:
years on end in a body that now
breathes for a few hours.
it is pointless just leaving, at the very same time,
all of these memories.

the attraction between abused animals
as sensed by the strongest of them.
the swill set before you:
you believe you can feed

my innards exhausted.
the flesh no longer red
the taste having changed. not even starvation
will draw you to me


Day 5

I can see you in a blue light as if you had switched on
a torch lamp under the tissues.
switch it off, there is way too much fear.


Day 8
between two bodies gently touching each other,
coarse fur.



he had fair hair, flaxen hair, jet-black hair,
soft skin he had, heavy skin.

he undid the strands one by one,
took off his skins one by one.
in their absence, the skull.

they were gathered and burnt. carried in garbage sacks.
living creatures sniff the sugary whiff and then urinate.


The Return

that’s not the way I have imagined the return:

at the end of my foot soles brown beads of sludge
they're rolling away with each move.

what do all these strangers feel like to be dreamt by another,
the straining of arms holding tight the new range of whiffs.
last night I perfected the gesture,
I carried it it out all the way to the end:

without being given permission I took, I kept hidden away
up into wakefulness.

the roots have stayed on, deeply plunged into the same old canvas ground

no difference between
the breaking the kneecaps and kneeling.

no difference:
the gestures sought after and the burden of roots


Lemur was created in collaboration with the U.S. choreographer Robert Tyree (his website here).


Andra Rotaru was born on 5th January, 1980, in Bucharest, Romania. She has a BA in Sociology at The University of Psychology and Educational Sciences (2003) and followed Academy of Fine Arts, but not graduated. Currently settled in Bucharest, she is an active cultural jurnalist for AgentiadeCarte.ro and has several collaborations with the main cultural newspapers and magazines in Romania. Published books: „Într-un pat sub cear?aful alb”, Vinea Publishing House, Bucharest, 2005 (debut - Awarded The National Prize Mihai Eminescu, Opera Prima (2006); The National Prize Tudor Arghezi (2006), Sibiu Writers` Union Prize (2006); Bucharest Writers` Association Prize (2006); nominated by the Writers` Union in Romania (USR) for the debut prize; „En una cama bajo la sabana blanca” (the translation of the debut book into Spanish), Bassarai Ediciones, 2008; „?inuturile sudului”, Paralela 45 Publishing House, 2010; „Lemur”, Cartea Româneasc? Publishing House, 2012 (awarded The best young poetry book at Writers` Gala, Bucharest, 2013). Poems translated into French, Spanish, English, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Irish, Czech.