My grandmother, caught between Parkinson’s spells
and sugar fever bouts, tells me her caretaker, dna
Coca, is stealing from her. She went through my
linen and towels, handpicked the pretty ones
and replaced them with these rags.
She tilts her
head at a pile of speckled clothes. Burn them,
burn them,
she wails. Two hours later, she softly
strokes Coca’s hands and calls me little girl,
then softly warns the woman against my sticky
fingers. Last Monday, she waved at some ghost
behind the desk, asked for her pair of crocheted
gloves, spat her dentures, then slipped in a kind
of limbo, neither asleep, nor awake, little eyes
bereft of any light. She came back to us, the way
she always does, the little dove, chirpy and ravenous,
gulping her orez cu lapte, feeling the hem of my
skirt, the bare skin, then tenderly touching the air.
Stay close, little girl, God’s breath is upon you.

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.

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