Four Poems

translated by Luke Hankins

Blue and green background



               I have to wake up.
The day enters the room. With the leavings of yesterday. The first things that reach my ears, fragments of conversation, unfinished sentences. I lie down again. I forget the beginnings of sentences . . .

Invent the walls, one by one, the window in front of you, the door to the left. Across the darkness.

Find yourself back in your body, fall . . . There is no other way.

I cover myself in words.



Now it’s past midnight, you’re far away. The whales and the animals at the bottom of the ocean sleep while our thoughts roam the surface.

Yesterday I bought the poems of Vallejo, in English. He surprises and disturbs me every time I open the book. So I close it, I put it aside. But there are verses that haunt me, this evening it’s raining more than ever; and I have no desire to live, heart . . .

It’s raining in Romania. I’ve just come back from school, I’m running, soaked, especially my shoes. What will I wear tomorrow? I make it home. The evening speeds by. Mama isn’t back yet. I hear children shouting outside, the screeching of a tramway . . . I open the blue notebook.



I continue. Thursday.

I can no longer escape this book. Voracious. It’s as if it were already written and doesn’t want me to expose it to the light, to send it into the world. I wake during the night and it threatens me, clings to me—I’m sick of it.

And you who think I write in the comfort of my room, in the warmth of a sunny day, in the luxury of your declarations of love . . .



I said, This victory, today, is made of my losses, of all my failures, built on my days of waiting, on my empty nights.

I said, This glory . . . The paragraphs I never finished—you stole their letters from me. Even if you gave them back today, it would be too late; the spaces have been filled.

They were gesticulating and holding their hands out to me with books to sign. I said, These are the hours I haven’t lived, the circles that never closed because you cut holes in my eyes.

There were lots of people, men and women, come for the celebration. An immense moon rose out of the lake.

Sickening red.

Someone nearby put on a Piaf album; she sang Padam, Padam . . .

Sign what? I said.

They crowded around me and held out a book I didn’t recognize.

Translations from the French
By Luke Hankins

Editorial note: From Journal aux yeux fermés (Éditions du Gril, 2010) by Stella Vinitchi Radulescu.

Stella Vinitchi Radulescu was born in Romania and left the country at the height of the Communist regime. Writing poetry in three languages, she has published numerous books in the United States, France, Belgium, and Romania. Radulescu’s French books have received several awards, including the Grand Prix de Poésie Noël-Henri Villard and the Prix Amélie Murat.

Luke Hankins is a poet, editor, and translator. His latest book is The Work of Creation: Selected Prose, and a volume of his translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow and Other Poems, is forthcoming from Seagull Books.