When You’re in Romania and Wish You Were Alone

Lea Graham

          with these donkeys clacking down the streets of Braŝov,
leading their cows to milking, with pastries you can’t pronounce
and bottles of Ursus or Ciuc chugged on a standing-room-only bus, 
Queen Marie’s castle towers above (known as “Vlad’s place”),  
her heart stolen away, hidden in nested boxes nearby from the Nazis 
or because of her love of this country… this country where you 
came for a little Carpathian silence, to watch over the garlic, lie 
on St. Andrew’s stone bed, to light candles for guidance.

Instead, you’re trapped as he smokes and tosses butts outside the airport, 
no help deciphering the taxi racket, he lounges against a wall as if it’s some bar 
in Beantown between jam sessions. The ride, reckless and blurred, past strip clubs 
and paneláks to the tourist section with this rock & roll loser who knows 
every score to every game down to cricket but can’t pick up the tab 
for anything except the one ticket it took to get him here and here you are 
in a whirl of Romanian (closest to Old Latin, you once read) and his complaints, 
stacking up even faster before it’s over until you find yourself 
underneath a hotel in a room pounding karaoke in Arabic, Spanish, 
German, English, a glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course—