A poem – Sonia Coman


My experiment took place on Thursday, March 3, in Chelsea, New York City. I asked someone on the street for directions to a flower shop; instead of following the suggested way, I decided to go in the opposite direction. It was the first time that I was in that area of Chelsea. Making an effort to ignore street signs, subway maps, and shop signs, I walked aimlessly and took pictures of walls. I chose to photograph wall surfaces because they represented the only visual breaks from an overwhelming amount of information from which I was trying to escape, in order to prevent myself from identifying where I was exactly. From this perspective, I felt how the city was aggressively working against my project.

Along the process, whenever I was in an intersection, I wrote down a word I would hear being spoken by the passers-by. The words were: “laughs,” “direction,” “need,” “forget,” “break,” and “world”. These words became part of the first and last lines of 3 short free-verse poems which I wrote during my walk. As I frequently write poetry, this activity helped me to focus on the unfamiliar urban space and on how it affected my imagination.

New York City. March 3, 2011. Late afternoon.
A carnation laughs sarcastically
I turn my head to look at it
It’s scandalous
A red carnation laughs to tears
Why is nobody waiting for me round the corner?
Bakeries close down; starving cooks gulp brioches
I step in the puddles which reflect the winter sky
I look back, but I can’t see what’s left behind
A carnation laughs sarcastically
Everybody thinks it’s odd
But keeps going
In the opposite direction
*
You need not read now, it’s confidential
It’s all between us
A moonbeam danced its way into my room and stayed with me
I jump over it every morning and I feed it with rage when it begins to fade
It is a magic recipe
The moonbeam is frightened, because it hears salty laughter
The magic recipe
Is to utter the words
You begin to forget
*
Words break like egg shells
The sun hid from this part of the world,
Throwing with eggs to a bare wall
Words stumble upon dying rays
And melt in a mix of languages
My native tongue, almost forgotten
But its words are the least fragile
Smiles on top of silences on top of words
It takes only a question mark
To destabilize a world
- Sonia Coman