‘Would you kill a bird?’ I asked the angel.
The angel stopped and lit a cigarette
and said nothing back.
Then, after a pause, the colours faded.
‘Would you kill a bird?’ the angel asked me.
I said nothing.
A stone was growing between me and my mouth.
Between my flesh and my heart,
WINTER MONTHS IN CHERNOBYL
We had well-polished walls.
Bleached walls for the winter months.
Each morning, the soldier stopped by with a glass of milk.
The frozen gift in a language of silence across history.
In those white days, we slept in the mother’s womb and
took turns to look after a small yellow bird, as round as the sun.
One day, a guard with an empty face replaced the soldier.
The guard was quiet. He liked to watch
inside the baking-hot void and often
he used red. Liquid red for my thoughts.
Some time later, in April I think,
the blizzard took the dead in an ambulance.
Food was on its way, and soap and plastic dolls.
And clocks and iodine sweets.
A few of us grew feathers.
A few of us became photographs.
Blindfolded legacy trapped in tulip bulbs.
The fires of Europe bring a call to silence.
Upon us, a call to wipe clean
the arrogance of a continent turned to ashes.
I am taking shelter in a dead city
as tall as the burning building cranes
and black and white children stare,
in waiting, at green lights.
At a crossing, between cyanide waters,
the passengers crammed elbow to elbow
collect old postage stamps.
It is the morning of doubt.
I prepared for this all my life,
with a blunt nib.
Copyright © Maria Stadnicka 2018
Winner of 12 national Romanian prizes for poetry, Maria Stadnicka is now based in Gloucestershire, where she has worked in radio and TV and now teaches sociology and psychology. Her work has appeared in International Times, Dissident Voice, and in various journals and literary magazines in Austria, Germany, Romania, Moldova, USA, UK and Australia. Her published collections are O-Zone Friendly, A Short Story about War, Imperfect, and Exitus.