For the Man Who Promised Me Breakfast
the best pastel de Belém in Belém before we
rode Tram 28 to the torre or later wandered
the flea market, making out in a foreign crowd.
I would let you hold my hand, sticky from pastry
and dusty from fingering the antiques, and get
lost in your thoughts, the way you want me to,
before you whisper esti o frumusica in my left ear
which is always funny, a nineteen-forty movie line
and you won’t get the joke because you are more
into theater plays, never watched Bringing Up
Baby breathlessly on Cinemateca nights, on the old
couch in your parents’ two room apartment, though
you lived in the same neighborhood and for sure
pulled my ponytails as we strode in pairs to the
school entrance, cravate roșii around our thin necks.
Did you call me pretty back then or simply smirked
in triumph at my frowned face? You kind of remind
me of the goonie who lost his student badge every week,
never got a nice, short haircut and brought the wrong
Nichita Stănescu poem to read in front of the classmates.
How many women were told they were pretty in Lisbon
as they sipped wine and ate pastéis de bacalhau at Casa
Portuguesa, then were kissed on lips smeared with Serra
da Estralla? Back home, you swear you bought me a small
watermelon from the market in Ostroveni before you
dropped me in front of the apartment building that had
the name of a temperature reading on a glass thermometer.
Isn’t it funny how we remember the best versions of ourselves,
or maybe it is the most accommodating ones that we keep
sketching into our minds? Across the bay, sun crashes into sea.
Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.