Richter Scale


Our first week, you showed me around
your empty capital in a dream. We skipped

Parliament and headed down Calea Victoriei,
lit beeswax candles for the living,

drank jasmine tea at Serendipity, then
a big one hit. I would’ve asked

what happened next, but I was in it, I knew,
I could feel it: you’d have saved yourself

if it weren’t for each day you forget how.
You’re like that musicologist I’ve read about—

seventeen-second memory. Every 3.4
blinks, forgets what he’s forked into his mouth,

his daughter’s name, his own. Every I
he writes, once written, a trick

of someone else’s hand. He remembers
composition, and he remembers his wife.

Every time he sees her he’s seeing her
for the first time in ten years, and he wants

to waltz. Every time she walks into his room
she steps around a box. I am this wife.

I’m stuck in your village, walking
a chicken on a leash. He pecks the ring of sun-

flower seeds around this house on Lavender Street
—lavender in another language. We’re stuck

in November, he and I, waiting for you
to walk into the side yard, past the little black

dog tunneling a lattice of wormholes in the dirt.



Tara Skurtu teaches Creative Writing at Boston University, where she received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and an Academy of American Poets Prize. 

Emma CroweRichter Scale

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