“I’m smiling” by Mircea Cărtărescu

(translated by geul from the Romanian)

Some fatties were looking at me
and then I realize  I’m smiling.
I’m smiling on bus 109 on the way to work.
naturally, a long-haired youth
looking out the window and smiling is always suspect.
but I remembered you and, as usual, I smiled.
it’s an automatic reaction.
I woke up this morning tangled in bad dreams, with live flayings,
with knitting needles going through my teeth
and I remembered grammar classes.
it stinks of undershirts and gasoline on the bus
and what do you see out the window? block housing and more block
I smiled and I think I kept this smile a good few minutes.
I remembered you in a shapeless yellow t-shirt,
I was in a t-shirt too, rather soiled, that’s how we went into the Bulandra.
the lobby full of  chicks all dolled up
and guys in suits…
and us, we looked like we just dropped in from Woodstock,
at school the principal ragged me out and the secretary
threatened me
the plant that’s never watered on time only had
a quarter of its leaves
trying to bring the class to order
I felt the smile coming back so irresistibly,
I had to turn around with my face to the board.


poem in the original Romanian


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