by Romana Iorga

Malice became the word we wanted
to drink from, the long-stemmed glass
you broke by squeezing your fist,
the tart wine I poured on the wound.

Where there was sun before, malice
drove its rampaging cattle-clouds—
a stampede of thundering hooves,
a volley of hail turned to sleet.

The air grew stifling, its belly
bursting with rot. My hands clasped
your shoulders, sought warmth
that was no longer there.

We spoke like the rain, in fits
and starts. Jagged words cracked
at our feet, spilled downhill
to join the nearest stream.

The water turned murky
once we remembered to breathe.
Each exhale unleashed the grit
of botched lives onto the world.

The city fumed in its cloud cocoon,
cars steering through viscous
mud, people and dogs stuck
up to their knees in our grief.

No one remembers the sun any longer,
its blanched orb an afterthought
in the mist. Across the ocean I weave
strands of rain into wreaths.

Sorrow pays well in the markets.
What do you do in the city we drowned?
They say you walk its empty streets
until dawn. They say you miss me.

Remember how you wanted to hear
“only the truth?” I had nothing.
Today, my words open like fists
to a room not unlike ours.

The two people sitting across
from each other wear our faces.
They open their mouths.
Listen. Hear them speak.

Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, ROMANA IORGA lives in Switzerland. She is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including New England Review, Gulf Coast, Salamander, as well as on her poetry blog at

Photo: “The Plug-Hole” by Tone