Literary Orphans

Two Poems
by Lucia Cherciu


A Print above the Kitchen Sink

Wet with colors,

bursting, opening up

like compliments, the petunias

my sister has multiplied from cuttings

cascade over her balcony

on the sixth floor.


Only the purple petunias

ease up the tension,

take away the otherwise monastic look,

the postulant air of her rooms,

crumbling shelves of books,

loads of laundry dried on the line

waiting for the implacable

torment of the iron on a hot day.


Only the petunias erase the backdrop

of the buzz in the kitchen,

her carrying groceries on two buses

and up the stairs,

perfume of velvet

at she rests her aching back against the wall

respite from her punitive list of chores,

a Georgia O’Keeffe print

above her kitchen sink.

O Typekey Divider

Dodging Her Fear

After his death

she catches a bus to their house out of town

though scared of his drunkard friends

and she locks the gate, bolts the doors,

and from a neighbor she borrows a dog

who barks all night in front of her room

so at two she walks in the garden

and finds her way to the plum trees

wobbly with fruit,

prune cu gȃt, goldane.


He planted three plum trees

and they kept walking—

reseeded themselves like steps—

and she doesn’t have the heart

to cut them down. She plans

her summers around sour cherries,

fills the pantry with jars of dulceaţă

that she hurdles to her children on the train


but it’s the plum trees at night

for which she dodges her fear

undeterred by beetles and frogs

and listens to the night buzzing with silence,

the assail of lizards as she reaches for

the elastic branches of trees

and feels for plums,

the night purple with moon.

O Typekey Divider

Born in Romania, Lucia Cherciu is a Professor of English at SUNY Dutchess in Poughkeepsie, NY, and she writes both in English and in Romanian. Her poetry appeared in “Connecticut Review,” “Connotation Press,” “Cortland Review,” “Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment,” “Memoir,” “Off the Coast,” “Paterson Literary Review ,” “The Prose-Poem Project,” “Spillway,” Oglinda Literară,” “Pro Saeculum,” “Salonul Literar,” “Timpul,” “Hyperion,” “Contrapunct,” “Astra,” and elsewhere. She is the author of two books of poetry: Lepădarea de Limbă (The Abandonment of Language), Editura Vinea 2009, and Altoiul Râsului (Grafted Laughter), Editura Brumar 2010.

Photograph Lucia Cherciu

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Dia Takácsová