A Kind of Burning
BY CLARA BURGHELEA.
As children, mother fed us
grapes and fresh bread before going to school.
My brother’s stomach always rumbled in discord.
Recess found us biting our nails.
At noon, keys around our necks,
we dragged our feet to the seventh floor
where our two-room apartment
greeted us cold and dark.
No electricity after 7 pm.
We sneaked up every day after class
to play elastics with Larisa.
Her mother made sour cherry jam
and we ate it warm from the pot,
laughing at each other’s dark teeth.
Grandmother slapped me for eating
at the house of my gypsy friend:
Do you wanna steal like her kind
when you grow up?
She never scolded my brother. I was his keeper.
One day, I kissed Larisa on the mouth
and tasted the tart lips, green eyes piercing my skin.
My brother grinned and pulled my ponytails.
A male admonition. At night, I laid still,
the smell of her hair numbing my body.
Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet. Recipient of the 2018 Robert Muroff Poetry Award, she got her MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. Her poems, fiction and translations have been published in Full of Crow Press, Ambit Magazine, HeadStuff, Waxwing and elsewhere. Her collection “The Flavor of the Other” is scheduled for publication in 2019 with Dos Madres Press. She reads for Frontier Poetry and Helen magazine. You can follow her on Instagram @clara_burghelea.