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   Jacket 34 — October 2007        link Jacket 34 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

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Oana Avasilichioaei

This piece is about 6 printed pages long.
It is copyright © Oana Avasilichioaei and Jacket magazine 2007.

from Gossip in the Valley

the muse sits on a stoop,
between her knees an anvil
in her hand a gigantic hammer

she pounds and pounds
             her forehead dropled with sweat, her armpits sticky
she pounds and pounds
             sparks burst
she pounds and pounds
             the valley, woken with ringing ears, feels a migraine approaching
she pounds and pounds
             chickens hop blindly, as if their heads litter the yard
she pounds and pounds
             sheep mooo, cows neigh, horses bleat
she pounds and pounds
             her palms blister
she pounds and pounds
             the brook floods laughter
she pounds and pounds
she pounds and pounds
she pounds and pounds

forjând ziua întru-n fir de iarbă


all day she wailed
wailed the valley to uphold the sky

sky, a vault bolted shut
fields, a throng of merry dancers
winked-at pretty girls, slapped ruddy cheeks and necks

all day history laboured
towards nightfall, her wailing so loud
it angered even the mystics and their gods

but in the valley between slippery rocks
and creek something was truly happening

someone was the culprit
someone else a witness

the nettles saw and were disturbed
the fish furious
the borders misplaced their guards

poof! merry dancers turned back into fields
poof! stars turned back into stars

history, hair wet and matted, legs limp, exhausted
spreading a zone libre

(though few wanted to learn this new language
and even fewer thought they could)


one tale boasts a king, so just (or cruel)
that a man forgets his purse jangling with gold coins
on the bench of a local tavern, and no one touches it

one tale stages a wolf devoured by the townspeople
to indicate fairness

one tale throws a peasant woman
down the dried-up village well, her dandelion and wild dill
mis-taken as a cure for jealousy

weeds shhhsh lost heartbeats

at the end of the tale, courage gets justified
one of the reasons the wolfbat enters cautiously
another is because no one can tell him where witches come from
another is because no one can tell him where wolfbats come from
(provoking a sudden crisis of identity)
another is because he hears a wailing and forgets the moral
another is because he wonders who reads him and in what way

raucous mouths gibberish his wolfbat manners and his wolfbat eyesight

but the wolfbat is stubborn, ear
to dry earth, he pastures the pulsing of nontales

                                                    (barely audible)


at first, they thought she was for crickets and mice
she hit the ear so

they piled adjectives
animalistic, massacred, muddled,
base, hoofed, not quite human

they seared language on hot coals to test her modesty

they dropped her down wells and chimneys, from cliffs and high-rises
to see if she would drown or break

they buried her in peat
tossed her in cluttered basements
attics full of bird-droppings

minutes passed, months, decades

caterpillars changed into butterflies and back into caterpillars

even language forgot she was language

just now a princess kisses her cold forehead
unspells her sleep


dawn, suitcased, lugs air from the gutters and roofs

the village, a stationed rosary, unbeads the edge of the valley

a woman walks on the dirt road,
kerchiefed and parceled
her gate slow
her gaze steady

raspberries (early for the season)
smile indecently at her rubber boots, the gentle sway of her skirt

on her shoulder sits the wolfbat

cataloguing words
nobody’s spoken in some time,
night-sheared words, asleep, batty

words bells would chime if a hand would move them
words thorns would yell if a hand would prick them
words buckets would brim if a hand would fill them

bring bandages, bring rumors, bring words left over

wolfbat walks on the dirt road
kerchiefed and parceled
a woman sits on his shoulder

oh mama, sing me a story
oh mama, sing me to sleep


the bat is told he smells like a rat
the rat is told he smells like a key
the key is told it smells like a child
the child is told she smells like a wolf

but a nose is a nose
and a bat is a bat
and the tale’s getting stale
why is that child still crying?

oh mama, I am loosing your story
oh mama, I sleep and no longer hear

Oana Avasilichioaei

Oana Avasilichioaei

Oana Avasilichioaei is a Montreal poet and translator. She runs the Atwater Poetry Project reading series and frequently teaches creative writing workshops at Dawson College. She has given readings and talks in Canada, USA, Spain and Slovenia. She has published a collection of poems, Abandon (2005), a translation of Romanian poet Nichita Stănescu, Occupational Sickness (2006), and has recently completed a new book, feria: a poempark. Currently, she is working on a new manuscript that entangles the language of fairytales, from which this work is drawn.

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