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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Visiting Nina Cassian

Getting to Nina Cassian isn't that simple.
I took the ferry.
It was evening. Men and women in suits and sneakers got off the boat and walked home.
One street, a promenade. Gulliver would have just lifted a leg and crossed over from this bank to the Manhattan bank on the other side.

The photograph on the back-cover of the poetry book was very bad. And here I was approached by a tall and upright woman. The more she talked, the more beautiful she seemed to me.

She said the place is very safe, "It's an island here, there's nowhere to run."
But at the entrance to the building there was a doorman, and a closed-circuit television system.

Right away she offered me some cigarettes, whiskey. I said, "No, thanks," and her face dropped when she heard that the cigarette smoke bothers me. She'll have to take smoking breaks.

What language did we speak? Ostensibly English, but that was only a cover for the real language -- Romanian.

As if I had lifted a leg and crossed over to Romania which is an island inside me, the real island on which Nina lives as well.

When we parted I said what I sincerely felt, that she was a beautiful woman.
She hugged me.

A few weeks ago I read that she got married. Love is the magician of beauty. It's great that it has come back to watch over Nina.

Nina recommended that I take the cable tram back to Manhattan. The cable tram moves very slowly, tottering high above the dark water as if it's about to fall any minute between the dwindling lights of the island and the splendor of Manhattan. Apart from me there were only two boys in the car, and they didn't seem bothered at all by the fact that no one had equipped us with parachutes and lifebelts.

All my life I've been like that, hovering between the Romania slumbering inside me and the present. It was a miracle we survived. If we had stayed there after Ceausescu came to power, who knows were I would have been now.

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