Summer X-Rays

Nina Cassian
I.

Fabulous days
with endless swims,
with algae around my waist
and convex tears on my cheeks.

Far away on the shore:
children shouting,
dogs with golden rings
circling their muzzles,
and rumors of abandoned memories.

I know what's awaiting me—
the winter of my discontent.
I have a reservation
outside on a hard bench
holding a bag of frostbitten potatoes.

That's why I swim so far out,
willing prisoner
inside the sea's immense green magnifying glass.


II.

Despite all my inner crumblings,
I'm still able to recognize a perfect day:
sea without shadow,
sky without wrinkles,
air hovering over me like a blessing.

How did this day escape
the aggressor's edicts?
I'm not entitled to it, 
my well-being is not permitted.

Drunk, as with some hint of freedom,
we bump into each other,
and laugh raucously
on an acutely superstitious scale
knowing that it's forbidden.

Could it be just a trap
this perfection
this impeccable air,
this water unpolluted by fear?

Let's savor it as long as we can:
quickly, quickly, quickly.

"Summer X-Rays", from Continuum by Nina Cassian. Copyright © 2009 by Nina Cassian. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.

Nina Cassian