Sunday May 26

mihaelamoscaliuc Mihaela Moscaliuc's first volume of poetry, Father Dirt, will be published by Alice James Books in 2010. Her poems, reviews, and translations appear in New Letters, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Connecticut Review, Poetry International, Subtropics, and elsewhere.







Blood Oranges for Easter
..................Romania, 1980s

We secure our spot in line with three-hour shifts:
father plays chess, mother trades rumors,
grandma sees that no late arriver sneaks in.
When the truck doors snap open, we recognize
the crates. Each orange nests in crinkly tissue,
an extravagance so out of place we don’t blink
when scales sink under heaps of cellophane.

But these oranges differ from the Christmas
imports: skins soused in blood,
as if birds have thrashed inside. We bag our fruit
in silence. The empty-handed do not protest.
At home, I dissect each sliver, stare at the meat
hewn with uneven patches of red, bite into the plump
striations savor the pleasantly bitter juice.

Mother lets me take three segments to school,
but makes me promise to keep them out of sight.
We were lucky. You saw how few crates, so no teasing.
At lunch, my deskmate discovers the delicacy
balanced on my knees—“You can’t eat that!
It’s filled with blood!” he hisses, flapping bread-and-butter.
That gypsy blood will kill you.”

“Destroy the Family, You Destroy the Country” Lenin

..................................................................Romania, 1987

When she complains to the school nurse about her bile
—it’s been filling her mouth with green anger—
she’s given the prerequisite “fertility” check and found
two and a half months pregnant. “Ninth to twelfth grade”
the speaker booms, “emergency assembly,”
and our uniformed bodies pleat into a perfect
.........Dear comrade teachers and united young communists, as you all know, last week
a disgrace befell our school: the suicide of student Isabela Volovici. Today,
however, we are proud to report an act of deep patriotism: Mara Pop has decided
to contribute a new life to our multilaterally developed society.

What bad luck, we think, and promise smilingly
to come see the baby. Mara returns to the four siblings
she’s been looking after since her mother’s death, to the cousin
who helps with the cows and who fathered the baby.
Once a week, the village doctor and the police drop in
to make sure she’s still pregnant. They lift her dress
to confirm the protuberance is authentic, remind her of the medal
she’ll receive for being the youngest mother in the village.
Another emergency assembly—
Dear comrade teachers and united young communists, your former fellow student
Mara Pop, has committed a most reprobate act: killed her unborn, betrayed our
trust, mocked the party’s directives. She’s here to talk about her crime—Mara
Pop, take the microphone................Louder, girl! Louder.

I do not lift my eyes from the runs in her stockings, each gone its own
distance, each strangled with red nail polish. Applause. Assembly dismissed.
Mara leaves with the village cop and we return to Marx and Lenin.
Her words hang above us, curved blades without handles.