Elegy for my mother’s employer

Mihaela Moscaliuc

                                                         Exit 172, Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Why not, she’d snap as she ordered the tiles scrubbed rawfive empty bottles of cleaner lined for inspectionsixty-five pansies planted then replanted closer to the brick bordersilver bowls emptied then reloaded with orchid-shapedno not the lotus-shaped candles.Why not swill fine cellar wine directly from the bottlewhy not waltz while mother cooks onions in the rainso they won’t pollute the inside with their crass smellwhy not waltz naked, extoll your small frameand freckled breasts, why not kick across the flooreach cocktail dress in search of the onethat will outshine the daughter.Why not, she repeats, like a mantra, why wouldn’t I?Six months of this shit’s enough, I tell my mother.I’d heard how Romanians treat their own,harping on how much worse their liveswould be back home, but now the rageis personal. Pack up, we’ll come get you.Mother assures me she’s fine. The woman meansno harm. She’s just having a hell of a timedying in this marmoreal housein a language that trips the tongue,so far from the steamy furrows of native ground.

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Mihaela Moscaliuc's

Mihaela Moscaliuc is the author of the poetry collections Immigrant Model and Father Dirt and the translator of Liliana Ursu’s Clay and Star and Carmelia Leonte’s The Hiss of the Viper. Her awards include two Glenna Luschei Awards, residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, MacDowell, and Le Chateau de Lavigny, and a Fulbright fellowship to Romania. She is associate professor of English at Monmouth University.

Cemetery Ink

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Objective, authentic, and ultimately vulnerable . . . without affect or strain, an intensity found only in the greatest poems."
Brooklyn Rail

"Listen for the forward-motion in syncopations that pause only briefly in death-knell, prayer, and spell. We seem to travel in visceral time with the poet’s hands and eyes. Moscaliuc’s gorgeous visual work creates a speeding Bruegelesque world-in-transit: cinematic, yes, but also deeply tactile, in moments which feel somehow stilled in the immortal."
—Judith Vollmer

"Moscaliuc’s poems are . . . are composed from the atoms of accumulated trauma and joy, from intimacies stored in cells, coursing through nerves and arteries. Her stories are told not through narrative, but through confluence, synthesis, conflation; flesh in words, the soul historicized and vital."
Heavy Feather Review

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