Prologue

Clara Burghelea

You text me you are dying one Thursday

afternoon in the middle of my Phonics class

and I see sounds melt away, slowly trickle

down the floor, a jolly puddle. Ten kids watch

my lips go white, a folded hummingbird

throbbing inside the throat. All of a sudden,

I am a giant spider crawling into the west

corner of the tall room, above ABC posters

and measuring charts, a thick, choky web

spurting out of eyes, mouth, hands. A pair

of sticky fingers feel at my left leg. Miss Clara,

your nose is bleeding. My upper lip is moist,

my tongue tastes metal. For the first time

in months, post Covid, I can actually feel

a salty subtle flavor and I smile. I won’t wipe

it, this ironish reminder of being alive, back

to my senses, though my heart, limp fish,

is choking with sorrow, yet you won’t let

me walk this, rather snowslide into acceptance.

What remains, remains, you say, as if love

can be burnt off and the bitter ashes won’t

clog my breath, so I am here licking at

this shallow wound, a nosebleed and before

I know it, I am lost in the squall of you, and

will have poems grow out of my chest like

mushrooms during dew hours and you will

know the sound a woman makes when birthing.

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Translation/International Poetry Editor of The Blue Nib.