Iustin Panţa


The Rain Motif

The Familiar



The Rain Motif



It was raining, so this could have happened—

chased by the big raindrops I ducked under the eaves to seek shelter:

there she stood, indifferent, as if waiting for me,

nibbling on the heel of a baguette. She eyed me a few moments,

broke off a piece of the crust, and offered it. I accepted.

In the hotel room, later, she never ate anything in the evenings (and no bread all day),

in the afternoon a few small, sour apples—

she bit hungrily—the crackle her teeth made when she tore the apple

split the silence between us in two portions—

my silence, edgy and oversensitive, and her silence, so restful.

It was well after the end of the season,

almost all the hotels were closed, in restaurants some two, three patrons only

we played a game that was our invention—one of us would pose a question, the other would answer something quite different, then we’d search our dialogue for a meaning. One time I told her, “In a week or two I’ll phone them.” She replied, “As for me, I’m here now. You’ll never be able to root me out from your memory”

the beach deserted . . .

we were talking now about nothing at all, but, the same as always,

biting, you divided our intentions in two:

the words we were tossing from one to the other indifferently,

and our hidden thoughts, communing in tenderness.

The rain stopped, we parted there under the eaves,

I stepped onto the sidewalk into an uncertain night, as if onto a rotten plank that, when you stepped on it,

might break under your foot, and you’d plummet into the void.



                                           translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mircea Ivănescu


The Familiar



For quite a number of years, I lived just about every day of my life among the things in the room with its own separate entrance; I’ve been gone from this room for even more years. This is where I slept the sleep of youth, where I gave free rein to my desires or held them in check with the bit; among these things, on not a few occasions, I let myself make fun of what is good and beautiful. I lie here on the bed which takes up half the room and look at the things around me, I’m completely at ease as I look at them and, looking at them, unexpectedly, I feel something like an inward joy. My memory tells me what I should feel were I to touch them with my hands the very next instant—I’ve done it so often, in an abundance of gestures which had a totally different purpose than the knowledge of things: to find out whether there might be heat in the room I’d lay the palm of my hand on the radiator, to determine whether the dampness had spread I’d touch the wall on the side toward the courtyard; if I wanted to wash my hands, I’d feel the moisture on the plastic faucet; and when I felt the need to let some fresh air in, my hand would grasp the handle of the window and turn it a little to the left. If I wanted to leave the room, I’d press the door handle gently and push the door.

Now, looking at the wall from my bed, I know that if I touch it, I’ll feel the roughness of the painted plaster, and when I touch the radiator with my hand, namely in that particular place easiest to reach from my horizontal position, my hand will be pricked by a burr in the cast iron. I’ll turn the faucet: it will make a few revolutions before the water suddenly starts to flow. The window handle will resist for a few moments, then the mechanism functions; the entrance door handle, pressed with the heel of the hand, triggers a shrill whine.

From my comfortable double bed, I know that precisely all of this will happen; musing thus, I absentmindedly run my hand over the carpet hanging as a decoration on the eastern wall and I can feel the dust that for years has settled in its weave—yes, this sensation is perfectly familiar to me. And I feel something like an inward joy.



                          translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Bogdan Ştefănescu






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