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The museum is closing, the custodian said.

A girl walks through the torn city
saying her silent goodbyes.

She touches the walls with her fingertips.

Farewell, fences. Goodbye, sweets shop selling cakes dripping with syrup and caramel squares hard as bricks. So long, schoolyard where she tore her knees roller skating. See you later, Cornus tree covered in golden flowers and bees.


Rooms filled with hanged people. Rooms filled with relics and bones. Rooms filled with old artifacts salvaged from fire and bombs. There is hardly a place to sit among memories, so, please stand. Place your hand over your heart and face the past.


In the blown-up building at the corner,
a chair leans against the void.

Photos still cling to the walls,

men and women with funny glasses
and moustaches.

Some have bonnets,
others, top hats,

and they all walk arm in arm
to the edge of the frames.


Big red stars perched like predatory birds on the buildings and on the shoulders of men in uniforms. Big hammers hung on the streets, next to big bunches of wheat. The big drums started to beat when the men spoke.


On the cement wall,
light doesn’t reveal a door,

but a wrought-iron shadow
of a gate.

Inside, an old woman makes the bed
as if waiting for a visitor.


Meanwhile, three geese ask the clouds for direction. How do they align so perfectly in formation? Who goes first at the arrowhead? Who gets to be last? How do they know which way to fly, and where is North? Do they look at us from above and marvel at the swarming? Do they show us a sign in the sky, how to find the road back home through the winter?


Let’s dance!

The days are getting shorter
and children grow so quickly,
just with water.

pirouette through the years,
small shoes next to large ones.

little darling,

let’s dance with the leaves
before the statues cry
and crumble,

before the lake shrugs
our memories away.


One day, a golden moth landed on her parents’ portrait, the one in which they tried kissing just after getting married, but they burst into laughter instead. Was that a message?


Mayhem the cat
knows the way:

toe on
the roof,

around the ledges,
close to

the pigeon coup.


Silence, heavy with secrets. The past is filled with silence and smoke, but the scent of the fire still talks. The custodian turns the key and walks home.


In the empty room,
the striped uniforms hang
from hooks in the ceiling.

Now they are filled only with air.

The breeze moves them,
turns them,

so we can see them better
in the naked light,

the hanging uniforms
of the dead.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. She is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013). Read more of her work in Contrary or at cserea.tumblr.com.

Claudia Serea is the author of five poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently Twoxism, a poetry-photography collaboration with visual artist Maria Haro (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2019) and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea is the co-founding editor of National Translation Month, and she co-hosts The Williams Poetry Readings in Rutherford, NJ. More at cserea.tumblr.com.