Alina Stefanescu
sugarbaby somebody

For something to become a carcass, evisceration is involved.

At the small veteran’s memorial near the town’s dying mall, I describe war to children who have already seen it. On primetime war is clean. They are surprised to find the soldiers have nicknames like “Spud” and “Sugarbaby.”

When they read the words aloud, I can’t help picturing a happygo luckydragshow in which each male listed on the dark marble plaque is aping something less rigid than the word Masculinity.

It’s a deadly performance that ends in a monument and a coffin and usually nothing as complete as a carcass.

We discuss conflict between nations— international conflict— as a carload of teens drives past, slowing just long enough to honk and scream, “Hey MILFFFFF.”

Also, “when’s the last time you got fucked?”

Because a woman doesn’t protest if she gets it.

The kids look up alarmed. I tell them not to worry— it’s a rhetorical question. Like politics. The performance of masculinity recedes amid car horns and traffic. We leave a fistful of golden dandelion flowers near the center of the monument and walk back to the car. The sun warms our back. I’m sorry, I whisper to no one in particular. Traffic, the wind, a whipper-snapping flag. But there is shame for what we’ve become. People who leave anonymous flowers.

A mother and her children. Some body that isn’t getting served.

first love and i’m a liar

First love: the first shared

A Lonely that couldn’t exist if it weren’t for the body of another person uncleaved from your corpus. Love would be nothing without its foundational myth.

   Once joined. Thunder torn asunder.

His name was

If I say his name, I might be subject to the enchantment of how it first felt to call a separate name, “Mine.”

It was like Hedwig and the Angry Inch but without the cool graphics. We are a painting left out in the rain bleeding rainbows of pale watercolors I shouldn’t let dry. But first love stays wet and never carcass.

His name was Patrick. It sounded like English cottage bricks and impossible moor- gray sky.

His name was Patrick. I thought about The Secret Garden when we lay in a hammock with our names strung like rope between us. Our names hold us up and oh the things we’ll say to keep from falling. To keep from waking up and my husband hates to hear about Patrick. Not that old swine again. I say he should have fucked his first love so he could have found something to lose. It’s not love if you’re not risking much and nothing is first if, at the time, you kept it in place, a close but unconsummated second.

“You are obsessed with detritus. With what could still die of the past.”

I reckon.
With Patrick it was the splendor of the space between notes. Something we could not say without destroying. A silence we protected.

First love is like music you never flesh out.

The silence gaping open. Only in retrospect can we hear it whole. As one piece.

Only later do we discover the melody.

hide and wait

The interim episodes when neither day nor night have established their dominance and everything is half-seen, shaded. Sunrise and sunset with a shudder in transitions, the scent of soil and hummus, the heavy dolor of what might be a period.

I wait for her in the kitchen when the spirits of the world slip between the lines of light and darkness, the traffic of bewildered children roils the house.

I hide behind the door
I’ve left open.

Knuckles turn white from the pressure of holding doors closed.

The bitty noises of love distract me from the spirit of love I am seeking.

Someone calls my name from down the hall but the voice is not hers.

The voice is flesh and blood drips from the teeth it needs me to kiss and cover.

The spirit I don’t expect leaves a shadow on the counter, a hole of absconded light.

The shape is not hers—not lithe or hungry enough to race down black diamond slopes, the brushfire blazing in her eyes.

Did she want me to follow? To race and risk what breaks in tumble?

All the shadows careen through a room where darkness swallows what I’ve seen and longing, itself, bids the sight.

It is not yet night.

I carve lines into the doorframe with a blunt steak knife— the spirits courted to eliminate hers.

Come mother, come back if only for the instant before nocturnes steal you again.

Come here, mother, behind the door I will slam to lock you in.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and raised in Alabama. Her most recent poetry project, Ipokimen, is available from Anchor & Plume Press (November 2016). []. These pieces are from an unpublished chapbook titled, Coliva. A coliva is a traditional Romanian cake which one bakes on certain days to commemorate the death of a loved one (in this case, a mother).