- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 78
- Language: English
- Date Published: March, 2020
- ISBN: 978-1-948017-64-0
In Clara Burghelea’s powerful first collection, memory is a thing that blisters under the weight of language and history. Each poem functions as a “sigh to slow the heart,” as they vacillate between two worlds: the communist Romania of the poet’s childhood and present-day New York. Every image and sensation precisely measures a distinct self; one that is prismatic, refracting stories and experiences that are inherited and, thus, inhabited. And if the self is a prism, these poems prove that grief is the light that bounces off every surface, transforming and illuminating a present life. “Words do not heal,/ They plaster the holes and clear space/ on the page,” writes Burghelea. But this book proves that language can do the hard work of repair, building new spaces one can live in, love in, survive in. —Kimberly Grey
Formally dexterous and daring in its metaphors, Clara Burghelea’s new poetry collection explores questions of gender, alterity, and social justice. Yet unlike so much of contemporary poetry that takes culture as its subject, Burghelea’s work retains a sense of mystery. It is her skillful restraint, that rare belief in the power of what’s left unsaid in a poem, that sets her work apart. Here is an exciting and necessary voice in contemporary poetry. —Kristina Marie Darling
Process of Detachment
I expect my son will let go of me when he’s five.
I will go back to just being Clara.
So ready to unspool from the erupting teeth,
the needy eyes, the extra hugs, the sticky fingers
and slip back into my old unprompted self.
The one who walked hard and spoke loudly,
flirted, craving to feel armies of ionized butterflies
prickle her backbone and warm her cheeks.
Of course, my body will stay proof of my shortcomings,
the twitching finger of the world pointing
at the curves, folds, scars. Little aware of the invisible.
The dreams of the young woman sipping
her latte at the corner of Franklyn and 7th Street,
a book of Dorianne Laux poems in her hand,
the nimble autumn breeze brushing her naked ankles.
The sleep-deprived, heavy breathing, nursing mom
who could not take her eyes off of the translucent skin
of the stubborn eyelids that took two weeks to open.
In between, there is a poet who craves the particulars
of other people’s frailties so she could match her own,
nib and heart probing the wound that lurks behind ecstasy.
Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet and translator. She received her MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing and elsewhere. She reads for various magazines and is the current Poetry Editor of The Blue Nib.