The courtesan


I’m playing at dreaming of green fields

and tangled woods, but my addiction is the city.

I have always enjoyed living at the heart of the world.

I do not recall anything like the Tower of Babel

with its terraces turning orange in the setting sun,

where I have acquired all the languages I know

or those that I will finally master.

Under the cedars of Lebanon

I met Gilgamesh, the lover of Uruk’s king.

I became his first and only woman lover.

He went away to fetch me the plant of eternal life.

I ate it, leaf by leaf, one night, while walking on top

of Uruk’s walls.

At Karnak and Memphis I found comfort

only in Amenhotep’s coolest palace rooms,

lined with alabaster and dark marble.

Amenhotep had specially ordered

a fountain—directly fed from the Nile—

for me to bathe in, during our hottest nights together.

Not long after that, I urged Alexander the Great

to build Alexandria. One evening on the Nile,

propping up his head

on my lap, Alexander imparted to me his vision of the Library.

In Athens, I kept Socrates company, while he,

everlastingly, intoxicated my spirit with philosophy!

Phidias, too, modeled the Parthenon’s caryatids on me.

Cicero was my true love. My letters to him

are still hidden somewhere

in a cave, under his Villa Romana.

If memory serves,

Lorenzo de Medici wrote poetry by acquainting

himself with Homer and Plato, in my translation.

In Paris, I sipped absinthe with Baudelaire,

singing toward dawn, Mornings

on the Banks of the Seine,

mocking Rabelaisian imagery.

I have traveled a long and hard road in recent years:

the Communist dictatorship, the repression,

the failed Revolution—

no chance of getting rid of Time’s challenge.

I am a New Yorker, though.

Everything here has a special taste—:

the leaves, the air, the water—

the light gives me the illusion of an endless afternoon,

the ocean’s smells are heavy,

the ground is firm and of a deep purple hue.

Life, the sky, the people are all under pressure to do more,

to achieve more.

Carpe diem, at all levels, stands for an obsession with sex,

spewed from the media, round the clock.

I flow with the mysterious fluid of eternity

through the pyramid windows of my new era.

I sense that everything that has been before

is here at work in a hermetic synthesis.

Barbarians and civilizers sit side by side in a fragile compact,

but I cannot tell one from the other.

Atriums are poisoned perfection—

artificial gardens adorn city lobbies—

Park Avenue is the new Via Appia

with the delirium tremens of its opulent dinners

putting to shame Nero’s fantasy.

Computers have infected me with an unknown

virus of discovery—

they are part of my latest metamorphosis.

I browse the world’s networks for hours,

feeling sorry for poor Faustus who had only one library.

My room is an assortment of clothes, fragrances, make-up,


cords, modems, computers—everything is in the plural!—

games of I forget which particular generation.

I’ve lost any concern for love during the business school classes

and a secondary brain has replaced my heart.

My only love betrayed me for an X-rated videotape orgy—

another one, who had been taken to court for alleged

sexual harassment, finally preferred a man.

I sleep with a modem in bed,

reading Cicero’s letters when awakened from nightmares.

Yet it does not always help. So I think about

interactive programs,

or try to devise a hologram by dint of which

to conjure up all my late lovers together.


Poem from the volume “Born Again-in Exile” by Mirela Roznoveanu




respiro@2000-2004 All rights reserved