by Mia Avramut
Last train to Algiers
(old lovers’ talisman)
There, in the dust, lies the want of six kings,
and the dream of their scars
drawn in water at dawn,
buried swiftly with seed.
Scent the dark dunes, sperm whales spitting hot ambergris, or else
you must search in the souk for guitar picking ghouls,
acrobats, snake charmers, sellers
of waterlaced frankincensed tapestry stanzas!
A curt brass bell bares big bronze rotting teeth to
carry the driver’s shrill wail
in fragmented visions of Algiers, Marrakech,
Timbuctu and made-up Terranulik.
Woo the blind camel train master,
make him hide all the bells against galloping robbers,
nip the tongues, fire them into the sky,
take us in silence to the nearest town ̶ or better to that made-up Terranulik.
Hound me now. Nibble my parchment clenched digits, love,
sell me for succulent leaves,
decipher what toetips that murmur may well hide:
“Here lies the scum of pulverized appetite.”
Let me fathom your cardamom mane, spread your locks of despair
and drink at your withered tea tit, at your muffled mouth honey.
Gift me the key you once fashioned of scorn,
I shall soothe it with lust and sour-lipped sea foam rock.
Must be the last train to town, must be this long languor, this caravan
hoofing the rocks into sand
and this mangled rondeau initialed with scars.
Say it once more with me, because later we sleep:
“There, in the dust, lies the want of six kings.”
You see now, there hungers the stele of six kings:
turns to sand in the night,
back to stone in the sun,
then to dust in the night,
and to rock after night,
until it envelops our mute artifact,
our gutless filigree fossil: a wedding at last.
Aurora by the Black Sea
Her flat-chested mother chewed potatoes and carrots outside on the front steps, then with curled tongue sent gooey bolus back in spoon and fed Aurora. Aurora – we thought her very young or very old, not to grow own teeth.
Aurora wrapped in warm gold curls pissed in our cobblestone courtyard at her untimely will, while hidden whippersnappers watched her under knotted eyebrows that defied confession. My own scraped legs kneeled high above her across dark walnut tree limbs, a slingshot close aimed at suncatching curls, never to pierce them.
Mindful of green, of white bird droppings, she squatted, strained, and shunned imperious charging hens, watched dusky rivulets inching away, meandering to the rectangular white marble Roman funeral stone my soldier grandfather unearthed near the outhouse after many rains in spring: a place to hammer open walnut skulls.
Aurora twirled. She waxed and waned in pirouettes as light as seasons changing, sat on the time-scorched stone with apron gauze bunched in her lap, with arms a faithful “Have you seen me?” arc.
Up in the tree I talked some noble Romans into colonizing toothless savage seashores of Black Sea: Pontus circa first century AD. My armies laughed at their indelicate enlightened marble absence – after all, nobody ever found the exiled Ovid’s tomb around these barbarous parts, right? Right. Only the floating disembodied epitaph of “Here I lie, who played with tender loves.”
Time and again I spied that marble slab decked in blurred letters, blunted and chipped like used teeth. There! an “N” an “A” an “S” and “O” around the luminous Aurora, so immoderate, insouciant, and sentient, and so ancient like a poet’s body sprung up, poised to outlive the wrinkled stone as best she could, as she grew old, quite old, pellucid core of swirly bas-relief.
Black Sea in memory.
A Romanian-born writer and brain researcher, Mia Avramut has worked in laboratories and autopsy rooms. She published scientific articles, book chapters and essays. On this side of the Atlantic, her literary work appeared in The Prose-Poem Project and is forthcoming in ‘Conclave: a Journal of Character’.