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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
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the making and unmaking of person
The Making and Unmaking of Person

The Men Who Ever Were
by Cristina Hanganu Bresch

              For all the inconsequential people in my life:
              You are never inconsequential.

The long and thin beard, quite ridiculous, for a man his age,
As he emerged from the basement, I'm going to Antioch, he said
I am reading Marx, and am enlightened, my consciousness is
Expanding everyday, you should try some pot too. This other
Was tall and handsome, so tall and handsome, so
Inaccessible. He spoke four languages and was an ambitious
Teenager, but I almost fainted when we played spin the bottle
In that Luxembourg attic. A pair of green eyes
At my cousin's party, so green and so intense, observing me
Intently, me, trying to stand straight, trying to keep my cool
But I was unable to resist, and looked back, oh I was
So flustered, and that's why he never came and talked to me,
I'm sure of it. But then the chemical engineer with defective
Skin, or so his drunkard friend said, he was dark and sad
And flirted briefly, and he did stick around, but he was in love
So much in love, and his love was across the ocean. How should
I know? For in my junior high I was in Lithuania, playing poker
And smoking in the tall bright nights, and then he came, with
The thick moustache, and he spoke bad Russian, how big is
Your apartment, he asked? What does your father do? Maybe
We should get married, and I dumped him by the lake,
The deep cold lake with sparkling gems at night, I will
Never forget Ignalina, the bad food, the poor cabins, the distant
Woods, the summer sunsets close to midnight, when my heart
Sank deep into the sky and looked back in awe,
What a beautiful world, what a beautiful world this could be.

Getting out of the exam room, sweaty and nervous, badly dressed,
My friend was gorgeous, she had caterpillar eyes and smooth skin,
And he, tall and blond, had no eyes for me, never, ever had eyes
For me while she was there. That time in the creative camp
Oh how I loved him, we played checkers, and he lost so graciously
I was so much smarter, he was so much more of a poet
And in that brief game, in his hesitating moves, I saw
His soul, he was transparent, oh, so pure and clear
As he lifted the pieces, and knew he would lose. I felt
Somebody else was writing the scene, it was too perfect, too
Predictable, I could see the denouement as I was looking up
Into his greenish brown eyes, knowing I meant nothing for him,
And then he left, and winning broke my heart. And the next year
I tried to woo her lanky brother (we were all in a small surgically clean
Town in the Austrian Alps) with songs, but that never worked; except
There was that Polish guy I danced with around the fire, and we couldn't
Have enough of each other, but he was leaving the next day
With all his songs and dance moves. That fall we were tutored in English
By the same feisty greedy woman, there were six of us, and
He was there, wanted to study philosophy, was always nervous
And then when we sat together in that ancient Greek class
He was friendly, too friendly, and even uglier than before. And oh,
The smart, too smart, too rude students of physics and math
And other obscure sciences, visiting us in our Madrid hotel,
And laughing at my Dali album, I blushed furiously and
Told them to leave, though I dearly longed to kiss one of them.
The Arab dentist hitting on me in the subway station, I want to
Talk to your parents, I want to marry you, you'd be the jewel of
My harem. I laughed, was pleased, and then relieved when he
Finally boarded another train. Between the trains I pondered
About these people, and who they are, and how we dance
Around each other and how I only am the difference between
The environment, and them.

So meek and pale, and so young
To be having a beard, let's go out to this Japanese restaurant
I'll show you around, who knows, but then he was too young
And I never wanted him. The Indian businessmen I met in the
Tower of London, stuck with me like the plague, but I finally
Managed to stand him up. The black bus driver who once
Took me to the Cracker Barrel, the nicest joint around, he was
So infatuated, so smooth, so short and fat, and I never again
Wanted him to call. But then again, the doctor in the streetcar
Station in Bucharest, saw me look up at the sky, at the drizzling rain
And wanted me and swept me off my feet, and talked of Joyce
And Faulkner, and then everything went wrong, so irremediably wrong,
So stupid, too, and a neighbor looked down disapprovingly,
And I was left for months to wallow in my shame. The smooth talker with a
Rebellious attitude, though he had nothing to rebel against, took me
Rowing on the lake in that beautiful park, and brought me a rose, and
Then never again, we both pretended that it didn't happen. And then
The poor pathetic talker by the seaside, that's all he did, he was
Short and dark and bitter, and talked and talked and talked and then
I wanted to leave, and then he was surprised, c'mon, not even
A little kiss, please? And I turned and left disgusted. And then this
Math teacher, he only spoke of Freud, and masturbation, and Freud, and
Masturbation. He lived with his parents, and tried hard to convince me
To come over, as we walked in the park. Then the blond ex-military, he was somebody
Else's friend and former lover, but stuck around, adoringly, until
I said no, and then he never offered to show me Charlottesville again.
And the stray date with the balding philosophy student, ugly but appealing, a few
Days later I saw him fawning over a woman in a McDonalds, so
Clearly in love and shunned, and I squeezed my boyfriend's arm
And said, "Let's get out of here." I was largely ignored
For the rest of my life, by other inconsequential people. I remember
Them all, though, and they all taught me something.
They all shaped my inconsequential actions, they all
Helped define the consequential ones. You are never forgotten,
Remember that, next time you walk down the street, glancing hurriedly
At the next woman.




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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