/alina stefanescu

If There Are Two Forms of Leaving & One Includes Village Fiddlers

There is no word to measure
distance between the violence of
local feelings & the memory of a home
-land’s rituals, meaning there is
no altar without a walk of
shame that ends in a wafer.
I hate myself for loving
what remains separate,
the root that formed
me, the flower that takes
up southern space.
Homecoming and homegoing
share a spine, share the limpening
embrace. An iconostasis relies on memory
for faces. Extended family portraits
cluster-bomb the wood panel walls
of a hallway which binds
living to sleeping
with no obvious escape.
I could cry fire. For nothing
is not loss, as loss is not singular
—not an instant but continuous rippling
off from a lake-plunked stone,
a sinking of pebbles, a way.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. RIBALD, a prose chapbook, is forthcoming from Bull City Press in October 2020. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter, Co-Founder of 100,000 Poets for Change Birmingham, and board member of Magic City Poetry Festival. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize. She still can’t believe (or deserve) any of this. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com.