Richter Scale, Bucharest

By TARA SKURTU

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. 

Richter Scale, Bucharest

Related Posts

Image of Black Lives Matter written on the ground with dry flowers and a picture of George Floyd.

Delete/Recover

AKWE AMOSU
You can put your faith / in a book, pray from it, place it / under a sick child’s pillow, press / flowers between the leaves, / affirm love for the living, be / in the swim of things, learn / what is human from its pages / and become that. The book / will restore you, / reciprocate.

Exterior of a fruit and egg store in Madrid

Plenty

KATHERINE L. HESTER
I chose my frutería not by its quality—how could I know that before I’d sampled its three types of peaches (red, yellow, squashed into donut-shapes), its abundance of tomatoes, its fuzzy orange nisperos?—but because of its old-fashioned tiled façade. 

Kreptitz Cliff

Untitled (Letter to Rügen)

GUNTHER GELTINGER
The fields of flint rock bordered by the moors struck her as being from another hemisphere; on the Zicker Mountains she felt as if she were in Scotland; and the Kreptitz Cliff, with its windblown hawthorn bushes and allure for amber seekers, reminded her of a secluded coast in New Zealand, where she's never been.