Sunday, January 6, 2008

Vasile Moldovan: PASCHAL LAMB

Home again at last. My father is welcoming me at the yard's gate. On his lips, cracked by the spring's winds and yellowed by the tobacco, a faint smile. Suddenly huge snowflakes, looking like bedsocks, begin to fall.The last snow of the ending winter. As if in concert with the heavens, the apple tree near the road is carelessly shedding its petals. The aged host and the young guest dress themselves, in an eye blink, with transparent cloaks embroidered with white threads.

all around is white
even the father's moustache ―
the winter's last snow

A child-like whimpering. Parted from the ewes, the lambs bleat all day long, Their baas smother the sound of bells. Their grief resounds throughout the entire valley. The whole family has gathered to catch the paschal lamb.

The lambs can't even bleat properly any more. Their voices are hoarse. And their throats seem drained. Baaa...! A prolonged sound, interspersed with moments of silence, their bleat resounds like a broken piece of metal.

My father stays apart, with a cigar placed in the corner of his mouth. He lets the younger ones run. At once, a lamb stumbles. And it isn't the most feeble. Maybe due to a dark premonition, it is the most restless. Its belly is pressed towards the earth. It tries to rise but manages to do so only partially. It remains kneeling for some seconds. As if crying out for God's mercy. However, does it really know about the existence of the Divinity? It should rather cry out for the mercy of the humans who, according to its understanding, are like gods, if not the gods themselves.

A youngster, with his shirt unbuttoned to the belly-button, grabs the kneeling lamb by the leg. I come nearer. The white fur of the kneeling lamb is wet. Might it be dew?. Might it be sweat? I catch a glimpse of two blue fax flower coloured eyes. I think that they hold two colourless and odourless tears, like two dew droplets. A tormenting silence all around. The uncaught lambs hush up. The people who have ended their hunt are also quiet.

Easter Eve ―
around the sheepfold
the lambs' silence

After a time, my mother calls me. The entire family is gathered for the Easter Eve party. My father prays out loud. All the others are praying quietly with him. When he finishes, no word at the table. Only the clicking noise of the forks and knives fills the dining room. The steam rises to the lampshades, looking like the aureoles of the saints. The smell of steaming lamb flesh mixes with the aroma of spices. There is a knot in my throat. From the laden plate, two faded blue flax flowers stare at me: the eyes of the lamb. I drop the cutlery. For me, Easter is already over.

people and lambs
so close, and so far away ―
like the Earth from the sky

by Vasile Moldovan
Bucharest, Romania
first published in Yellow Moon 19, Winter 2006

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