POEM | Ode to the ’80s Scrapbooks

We called them oracole as if they could tell the future 

when all we wanted was to be seen in that moment. 


All shin and burning eyes, best-friend necklaces and 

oversized sweaters our mothers knitted while doing 


extra night shifts at the chemical plant that fed and kept

half a town and what a town that was. Too large to 


contain whispers that made trees move on their insides 

and then, too small to matter when Ceausescu visited 


on August 23 one year and we waited half a day in the sun, 

churning stomachs and scorched ears, to sing our hearts out 


to multiubitul tovarăș, and the power failure at the chemical

plant screwed up phone lines and we were never told he would 


go straight to Sibiu, his son’s residence town, and 3400 kids, 

all braids and cravate roșii, dreamt under the blue skies, stems 


of their hearts stitched together. The rest of that summer tiptoed 

into our blocks of flats as we lay on our bellies on the cold 


linoleum. Cutting and pasting flori, fete, filme sau băieți 

in our secret books, dripping wax on folded scented pages 


where secrets bloomed like bruises, then swapped them while

waiting in line for bread, always super careful not to lose 


our ration cards. We would not yet miss the imploding youth 

in our bones, the teen, thin thirst in our foraging fingers.

Clara Burghelea

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, HeadStuff, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. Follow her on Facebook.

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