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  • Writer's pictureAnca

The Dirt

You will run away from here... You will leave for America...

No, you won't leave”, whispered the leaves of the trees, the grass.

Yes, I will!” I answered with all my might. What am I supposed to do here, in this ugly world?

They will go, you will stay, and the moment will come when you will see the most beautiful thing on earth here!

And at night in my thoughts, I would go back to my childhood. And there, the sky spoke to me, the river, and, above all, the speechless crosses in the small cemetery of the village church. Twilight came like an unseen fairy, beetles ran through the air, and I wanted to get wings like theirs.

Then the silence became master, and the stars resumed their place every evening.

“Get up, you lazy bum!” the sergeant's voice boomed, who tortured us in the morning.

My heart jumped out of my chest and ran ahead of me. I dressed my body, which remained without me, an inert body. My hands fumbled with buttons and shoelaces. Then our breath, steaming in the morning air, like a young herd chased nowhere. Through short orders, the corporal cut off even the last drops of my dream. Reality was theirs.

I'll leave this country!” I said, gritting my teeth. It's full of something evil, unnatural!

No, you won't leave!” answered the frozen ground, trampled by my soldier's boots.

What do you know, dirt, what is life?... And, above all, what is my life?.. I want to be happy!

Your life is us, your happiness is us. This soil you tread on is us”, the earth shouted at me.

Who are you?” I asked.

“Atten-tion!… Atten-tion!” the corporal yelled.

We were crawling with the gas mask on.

“Stand up, straight, you bum! Not even the child in his mother's womb moves anymore! Is this understood?”

We became motionless trees. Only the cold reminded us that we were alive. Then the truck took us to take the military oath. The colonel spoke from some sheets of paper. The colonel had so many sheets of paper!

The soldiers listened to the glassy cold. The colonel's words didn't rise from the papers, they died on his lips like moths touched by the lightbulb.

“Soldiers! We will visit the Marasesti Museum!”

My eyes wandered over the old photos. Romanian soldiers


And suddenly, my eyes fell on a shirt with a hole in the chest from a bullet. The blood was still there. It was like an open wound.

I am the soil you tread on and want to leave behind!” whispered the bloodstained shirt.

This is a free translation from the story “Tarana” written in Romanian by Dan Puric and included in the collection “Despre Omul Frumos”. 

yellow flower from cracked ground
Ground cracked by dryness


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