by Tiberiu Neacșu
On Liberty Field Street some dogs
bark from under a bush of red
roses planted more than 25 years ago.
1990—we had to leave then—me and my family.
The bullet holes in the walls let light in
as if they were contrails drawing
a map of possibilities. Heavy snow, heavy rain,
I was panting through the house—no friends
to play with, no familiar sounds, only
"don't go out there, you'll get shot."
There's nothing they want more than a bone, the dog-
master says. Don't be afraid, dogs are dogs. I'm not.
Mud gathers on the soles of my shoes,
I scrape it off against the sidewalk.
The Square has no border.
Today—no bullets. You brought hot tea,
you brought water, and you, a warm coat.
I don’t know your names.
Hands up holding rhymes, we move into
the night, push barricades with our words,
and fill the boulevards, waking home.
ABOUT THE PROTESTS:
On the night of 31 January 2017, the Romanian government approved emergency ordinance OUG 13, essentially decriminalizing corruption and pardoning certain crimes committed by government officials, like the abuse of power, with financial damages less than 200,000 lei (around $47,000).
The people of Romania immediately responded. We began gathering in Victory Square, Bucharest, in front of the Government building, but also all over the country. Our numbers spiked from 40,000 to 600,000 people in only one week. We were peaceful, but firm.
Our demands: that the ordinance be dropped and the government resign.
We lit up Victory Square with more than 300,000 phone flashlights, we crowded downtown Bucharest with rhymed chants and hashtags on banners and buildings, we brought along our kids and our elders. We created the biggest street movement since the fall of communism. With #rezist, we joined America’s #resist movement in our own language. We became an inspiration for other European countries and made news all over the world. We understood what solidarity was, and we made our country our home. I wrote this poem inspired by all of us, those who have been keeping the light alive for more than a month now, tireless, smiling, and never backing down.
Tiberiu Neacșu is a Romanian poet and translator living in Bucharest. He’s the author of two poetry books, and his poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.