you are in the diode archives winter 2010



Against My Mother’s Death.
My Mother Will Never Die. And Mother Died. But Just a Little.

My mother will never die.
As soon as one of her eyes grows old, I’ll rush to her
and turn her eyelids young again.
As soon as her face begins to wrinkle, I’ll immediately commission painters
to repaint her.
Without a moment’s delay, I’ll choose the greatest painters
and send them on an emergency mission
to restore her wondrous body,
fresco by fresco,
like antique friezes
in secret attics, naves, and balconies.

My mother will never die.
I’ll swallow her myself, piece by piece.
I’ll gulp her down and spit her up
more beautiful
and pure.
I’ll sprinkle her with hyssop.
And she’ll be as white as snow.

Mother won’t die because I’ll betake myself to her
and pray, and on the spot my prayer will become my mother.

Mother won’t have a chance to die
because I’ll turn into an air-bag
before the fatal accident. I’ll die in her place every time.
I’ll go and methodically rejuvenate her,
I’ll bring her the water of life
from where hills clash and rear,
the mountains battling tooth and nail.

Everyone who tells me my mother will die
I’ll butcher. I’ll put them up in the coarsest, most barbarous salt
and throw their heads to steep in a barrel,
in a sea of wine.
Of wine and Easter cake.

And Mother died. But just a little.


If My Mother Were to Die
in My Chest, Your Heart

If my mother were to die,
I’d enter her body and live.
There I’d live eternally,
There I’d build my fortress, there I’d celebrate
all the anniversaries that were my mother’s.

Sing, I told my body.
Sing the gentleness that was my mother’s.
Sing Mother’s beauty, sing her anger whenever I made
a mistake, one of my life’s jokes, whenever I broke something
in the kitchen.
Sing with fury how you loved Mother.

Sing my childhood’s despair, whenever she ventured as far as the corner of the apartment building to buy bread, bread and milk—I worried she’d abandon me forever. As if your shadow could abandon you. Your body’s own shadow. As if it could just go off and leave you. As if it could go off and leave behind, in your chest, your heart.  


Mihail Gălățanu was born in 1963 in the Romanian city of Galaţi. He published his first book of poems, Stiri despre mine (News About Me, Bucharest: Litera) in 1987, his second, Scrîşnind în pumni (Keeping My Fists Tight, Galaţi, Romania: Porto Franco, 1993), six years later, and since then, the equivalent of a book of poetry or prose each year. Among recent poetry titles are Mormîntul meu se sapă singur (My Grave Digs Itself, Bucharest: Vinea, 2003) and, from the same publisher, Burta înstelată(The Starry Womb, 2005), from which these poems derive. Gălățanu was editor-in-chief of Playboy Romanian and a glossy monthly magazine, Flacăra; he currently edits a financial publication.

Adam J. Sorkin recently published Memory Glyphs (Twisted Spoon, 2009), a collection of three Romanian prose poets, and Ruxandra Cesereanu’s Crusader-Woman (Black Widow, 2008), translated with Cesereanu. Two other books of translation are scheduled to appear in 2009: Rock and Dew, poems by Carmen Firan (Sheep Meadow Press, translated mostly with Firan); and Mircea Ivănescu’s lines poems poetry (University Press of Plymouth [UK], translated with Lidia Vianu). Sorkin is Distinguished Professor of English at Penn State Brandywine.

Petru Iamandi is an associate professor with the English Department of the Faculty of Letters, Dunărea de Jos University of Galaţi, Romania, and a member of Romanian Writers’ Union. He has written American Culture for Democracy (2001), English and American Literature—Science Fiction (2003), American History and Civilization (2004), Literature about the Future (2004), An Outline of American English (2008), and An Introduction to Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting (2010).  He has compiled an English-Romanian Dictionary (2000) and is the co-author and co-editor of several dictionaries and English textbooks. He has also translated twenty-four books from English into Romanian and twenty-two books from Romanian into English (prose, poetry, drama, non-fiction). In 2008, the Dramatic Theatre in Galaţi staged his translation of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party. He has published translations in various British and American magazines, has received awards from Antares, Porto-Franco and Dunărea de Jos magazines, and is included in Who’s Who in the World (1999, 2001).