Author: Daniel Ionita
It was toward the end of the summer when he proposed.
She was just out of high school; he had one year to go.
That morning she asked him to peel her some peaches –
“I can’t stand touching their fluffy skin, it drives me crazy.”
She took her time eating them concentrating on each piece.
Then, while licking her fingers she raised her eyes:
“Could you join me for a bike ride to the post office?”
This was four kilometers away, in the next village.
The old folk asked (or maybe she offered)
to pick up a registered letter.
They rode their bikes on the newly laid bitumen,
which brutally amplified the midday heat.
“I think we should get married” (or something like that), he said
while keeping his eyes on the road and his hands firmly on the handlebars.
“Yes, good idea, I think we should”, (or some such). She replied.
“…Please remind me to get some icing-sugar from the store,
I want to bake a cake”. He nodded.
They continued the ride, picked up the letter, returned.
He was dripping with perspiration as they dismounted,
but it had little to do with the hot bitumen.
As you might have guessed, he had no ring to give her.
I can also tell you that they had not even held hands,
never mind kissing.
After a few decades, three children, four grandchildren
she can touch apples, nectarines.
But when it comes to kiwis or peaches,
she still asks him to peel them for her.
The Strained Blues of Monday
with his Bally computer bag hanging on his shoulder
towards the same platform (number 2)
where he usually boards
the 8:10AM train for work, at the Strained Blues of Monday.
The grey arches of the station
remind him of the metal cage in his recurring nightmare.
He is a circus animal, a primate,
with a t-shirt on, which barely covers his top half.
He hides in a corner, closes his eyes
and tries to imagine no one can see him.
“Where are you?” – some distant voice questions.
He madly attempts to pull at the material
and stretch it down
to cover his sex, but to no effect.
“At least Adam had the luxury of fig leaves…
Bloody hell… Now you feel sorry for yourself”.
A nauseating metallic taste fills his mouth.
In the dream Romulus attempts to figure out
the origin of that horrid taste.
He invariably fails to recall it, but feels it is right there,
on the tip of his tongue.
When awake, like now,
with rational deduction at his disposal,
he thinks the yucky taste is a consequence
of the humiliation, shame of nakedness
before the gawking crowds.
Some of them are groups of children on school excursions.
(“Who told you that you’re naked?”)
He attempts to think of an answer.
A shrill computerized voice informs of the next arrival
And pulls him back to the reality of the platform
and to the noise of the approaching train.
Romulus fleetingly entertains the thought of stepping in front of it.
He remembers reading about the trauma
which train suicides
cause the train drivers, passengers, other bystanders, first responders.
(“What a load of shit, rationalizing your fear like this!”)
He looks around him, at his taupe Louis Vuitton overcoat.
His fingertips quickly run up and down the garment,
touching the material, the buttons, even inside the pockets,
just to make sure he’s got it on.
Shirt on? Tick. Pants on? Tick. Underpants on? Tick.
The train is in view. The train is slowing. The train is stopped.
Romulus steps through the last door of the last carriage.
Or is it a cage?
Just give me your hand, Mona Lisa, and flee…
leave moldy museums to quibble and moan –
the world waits outside, made of flesh and of bone,
with rain and with sunshine, the mountains, the sea!
For hundreds of years you have hung on this wall,
in hope Leonardo will somehow appear –
while loafers and fools gave you praises or smear,
and packed like sardines, they remained in your thrall.
Your gaze speaks a playful, or insolent, tale –
as thousands of critics are wont to explain.
But what matter words, be they wise or mundane,
when up on this wall hangs your heart, by a nail?
I’ll wait till the evening at the inn down the lane,
that’s crowded with people of flesh and of bone.
Leave stuffy old Louvres to quibble and moan,
and we’ll dance in the sunshine and run in the rain!