Liliana Corobca


Pygmalion planned to build Galateea. He chose an egg as raw material. But the egg has already a famous form. Pygmalion doesn’t care, he tries to sculpt it, to shape it, to press it, to educate it and to give it the wanted form. The egg, fundamental element, primordial and finite, gets upset and cries secretly. Then, it rebels against Pygmalion and shows its disagreement by revolving on its own axis, as a globe. But Pygmalion doesn’t come to the end of his tether. He catches it and fixes it well using a special multi-dimensional system. At its wit’s end, the egg uses all its force, takes off and bang! on Pygmalion’s forehead. Then, it drips down his nose, his mouth and his chin, giving his stupid creator a feeling of sickness and prurient pleasure.

I have never understood what they wanted from me. Sometimes I was provocative and unleashed, I used to smoke as a viper and I used to stare. Silence fell, men used to avoid eye contact. The boss became a stranger and he closed me in his favorite cage, “lions’ cage.” Lioness’s. Lights turned off gradually and I, confused and sad, didn’t know what to do. One could hear music sounds coming from somewhere, curvy music. Men aligned strangely and murmured something, maybe they were humming. I was under the impression that I was on a scene and that I had in front of me a vibrating public that wanted something beautiful from me. I decide to dance. They look at me joyfully; I may be dancing well. I’m dancing my yesterday drawing, that I have just finished or my tomorrow drawing, that I’ll start now. Sometimes my boss hums something from his favorite repertory. He has a sensual voice, making his listeners to quiver. I’m also dancing their drawings.
I was tired and I lounged in my cage, listening to the more and more charming music and watching the men dancing more and more incomprehensiblably.

“You raise in me a great opera. You plant it, I keep an eye on it. Then, you reap it.” I’m reproaching you. Antonia dear, there are also things that happen randomly in our world. But there is always a reason for painting, it appears in a certain way, at a certain time. Let’s not be hasty and let’s not lose our time. You are our raw material, and our heads, grizzled due to wisdom and experience will shape you and will sell everything as expensive as possible. Woman, what would you do if the fire that enflames you wouldn’t fascinate you soothingly? You don’t understand a thing. I know exactly when, how and what more I can give you, I know where your hate and your love begins, I know how to torture you in a creative and productive way. I know everything about all our secrets…

Most probably in front of me there was a giant. I saw his huge paw coming towards me; I felt it was a giant that loved me, that wouldn’t flatten me with his finger. That he was the good and gentle giant. I have hesitated for two seconds and then I decided that it was normal to be afraid and I ran after the corner, I disappeared.
I strongly regret it.
When I was younger, I wasn’t afraid of the giant. He held out his palm; I got up; he lifted me up; the houses became small, everything was small and I saw the world from above. He rocked me and to avoid falling, I took one of his fingers. Sometimes I told him stories or I danced “matrioska”—a dance that I learned at school. He laughed, because by dancing, I tickled his palm. He promised me to come over again. I don’t know why I’m afraid of it now and why I’m hiding.

You don’t know: he was the Creator. He was a kind of authority figure. He accepted some, talked to them, and he rejected others. This time he was angry. Everybody who entered there came out gloomy, frightened. One could hear shouts. Only the virgin-like Novice could relieve his pain. He picked up a book and he asked her: “Is it yours?” The touched and scared girl didn’t know what to answer, because, due to the fear she couldn’t see a thing. He is coming close. “Yes,” he said. Read. She opened the book at its middle and she read a little, then she raised her eyes questioningly. I like it, he nodded in agreement (a little bit absent-minded). Continue reading. The girl blushed a little and became beautiful. Read louder, be braver, he told her. She stood up and began to read, louder, more convincingly, more forcefully. The room became enveloped in a thick mist, one couldn’t distinguish the letters any more. But she kept reading. The wind blew between the books spread out. Its roar couldn’t cover her lady-like voice. The Creator couldn’t see any more, he slowly moved away, he slowly melted. Her voice was still clear. When the elf came in, there was nobody, the room was cold and deserted. On the wall, was an insignificant painting. An old vintage armchair, a dilapidated table, an opened window, silence around. Where did they all go? the elf wondered.

You’re my favorite library, Antonia. Did you know? By your side I can peacefully exist, your books make me feel free. You’re an enormous place, pure and intelligent. Your silence (because you always write and you never speak) is parental, protective. Safety. If you stopped writing, you would jump into my arms as a child and you would start kissing me. You are the same, you haven’t changed. Like a good mother you forgive my mistakes. I can make mistakes, but I come back to you. No one knows me better, no one loves me more. Write, my lover, write.

My loneliness is like a weapon.
We lick our injuries, we stitch our frustration.
Mysteriously, the castle is watching me.
You don’t have all the keys to open its doors.
You don’t know so many serenades to sing to my remote window.
You will never reach me.
The castle is watching me, great-hearted.

Beyond love, there is a level where there is no pain, jealousy, ardor. They recognize each other, they know. For love you can climb and you can fall (to become a loser, alcoholic or a bitch). From above you never fall, you’re safe there. The boss makes me explain this, I tell him I can’t, I wasn’t there. He searches for arguments to convince me. Maybe you guess, you can imagine…

Antonia wants to see inside her and her inside should be transparent.
She bends down and she sees her transparent chest, she looks through herself into the distance.
Her chest of silky glass.

We stole Antonia. It wasn’t difficult. She was indifferent, she didn’t care what happened to her. Feverish, craving, we finally got the most wanted prey. We did it very thoughtfully. Not to hear if she shouted. Not to hear if she struggled, if she ran. She remained inert, she wasn’t moving or struggling for freedom. I tore her clothes. We all wanted to take part, to touch her quickly. She was beautiful, but inert like a sculpture. We didn’t want to possess an artistic monument, but an alive Antonia, attractive, sensual, hot, as we all knew her. The buttons! Antonia didn’t hide her technical places, we knew where almost all her buttons were. She was indifferent, we saw it from the beginning. We pressed, we pushed, but she was still impassible. We hated it. The feeling of this great failure filled us with hatred. I forgot to tell, when I tore her clothes, I discovered she had no sex, she had no orifice, no hole, any little hole that we could enter, in order to penetrate the creation mysteries… I opened her legs and there was nothing, but an ordinary place like dolls had. Our hatred, the hatred of the males loving art… Dumbfounded and surprised, we saw her mouth and ears closing too. An Antonia without mouth, without sex, without ears… Any orifice… A robot that rejects us. That you want to destroy. She kept her eyes closed. One of us found a solution in time. One remembered the secret button, the hidden button (I knew about it, but I forgot by haste). Attentive, calmer, we touched her slowly searching for the damn button. Our hands felt over the body of robot-Antonia. Gradually, her body changed color, it became pink, hotter, then it appeared a little hole that became bigger and bigger, then her ears, then more other orifices, lips, in a few moments, her body was full of open smelling lips, of sweet little holes, attractive, wet… She was full of orifices that could satisfy our crazy desire. Who found the button wasn’t important any more. Her babbled voice and our sublime breath. A dance with a unique clenched body, a monster with dozens of legs, members, like a huge spider that eviscerates his prey artistically. It follows the tired bliss, the sticky happiness and the sacrifice. Antonia is put into a sack and she’s thrown out the window. We threw it away, not to be found by anybody. “To pass from hand to hand, from eye to eye, from body to body, from happiness to happiness, the masterpiece is for everybody. In her way, Antonia was a song, a book, a painting” (the moral).

Why isn’t Antonia afraid of death? Who can she be afraid of? She’s younger, slimmer, more graceful. I saw them touching secretly, maybe they even kissed. Both are passionate readers, discussing lively and enthusiastically about the same victims.
Today Antonia is a chimera with long ears that are hanging on her sides and she is beautiful. She has variable electric hair, that when plugged in, kills the mosquitoes. She floats on the river into a little vessel built from a false complicated poem.
“Why isn’t Antonia afraid of death?” the lady asked. All my friends told me that during their childhood they thought about death. How young girls die, how they stay in white bride dresses in a coffin surrounded by people who suffer. To die when you are beautiful… Thoughtful lady. Antonia looked at the crinkles, the dimples, all the lady’s wrinkles. Antonia is slim, she is graceful, she has sparkling eyes and red cheeks. The lady doesn’t. Pale eyes and hollow cheeks. When two ages come close, the eyes’ brilliance is shared equally. The lady knows it and Antonia knows it too. The lady’s hand caresses the pink face. The hands that envelop the past and the future passionately, in a unique clench.
Death looks at a white hand, a black hand, a sparkling eye, a pale eye, a pink cheek, a dull cheek, a young and an old in the same body, she looks and she doesn’t understand (or pretends so) and still she waits. There is a rule that you know as well.

What does one lose, what does one win? Your long way brought you here. And here birds sing, people love and dance, the sunrise is almost the same. You cannot tell the truth. You cannot accept that you lost everything either. You hold out your hands, your fingers. You focus, you gather yourself… nobody sees you, does anybody follow you?
An immensity that I ignore is separating us, the heat and our beauty bind us together. My arms are extending to reach you, we are one in front of the other, my fingers are vibrating at the pure light that you, great-hearted, you share with me… Over and over again, more fortified, more intense. Sun, sun give me your energy! I whisper. Enlighten me, my dear, warm me up, help me...
Antonia! cries that fierceful man. Antonia, let him alone, you won’t receive any energy from him. You have the plugs! Two for hands, two for legs. You sit comfortably in the armchair with your fingers plugged in. You are a different Antonia now, a different one.
I am a different Antonia now, a different one.

I came in and there was nobody. I didn’t come in intentionally, when you were not there but by coincidence. Your room was a little bit spacious than ours and you had more computers. If I hadn’t entered the room, everything would have been completely different, I would have been another Antonia today. An expensive toy that hangs on a wall. A little scorpion that moved his legs attracted me, I don’t know what I did to it, maybe I rolled it up just for play and hidden doors opened, all the walls had doors with mirrors from where Antonia looked curiously. A door didn’t have a mirror, I went in there. Laboratory or what is this? Dozens of screens with sketches. Images, pieces of Antonia, what they do what they say what they sing… You cannot plan my song, my dance, my drawing. You cannot be my God, you cannot. Everything is possible.

I see everything like a dance. With flashing decor changes. With different voices of the same human being, with the same Antonia, but seven women to play her role. With a lot of images turned upside down. I see everything very detailed. You have to see. Maybe from different corners of the scene one should hear a different music and a lot of dance, always, each with his own music.

I was the most important to you for so many years. I was lady number 1. I was elegant, beautiful, intelligent, etc. I’m scratching somewhere in a meditative and disgusting way… It is your birthday today, one can hear music, the beautiful and happy lady by your side (not a pickle puss like me) is by your side, they clink glasses, they drink, they enjoy themselves. I can’t cry because of so much despair. I take the broom: extend, broom, fly! Be a witch broom! Antonia, transform yourself into a black and mean witch. Vroom with the broom, vroom vroom! You’ll appear in my painting, small butterflies, pinkish, with ordinary wings, with a short and mean-minded flight. You will dye in my painting… my great-hearted and patient painting.

I infuriate you so badly. You imprisoned me in the grey empty dim room without books. Without any book. Now, my lover, you want to cure me. Now heal me! After I have written so much! After just what’s left of me… I still have to write just one book, please, just one book, but you don’t want any more. Let me write this last book and after that I’m done, I promise to be as you wish.
I understand, I have to go, you don’t want me to write you any more. Nothing binds us. You paid me regularly and now you don’t want a thing from me. I became disturbing and suffocating. It’s the time when you throw me off your little vessel.
I’m an old, rusted mechanism, I creak noisily. I avoid being in your way. I’m ugly, old, shabbily dressed. My entire existence, the fact that you can stumble upon me on one of the long and fascinating corridors gets you mad. You cannot swat me like a fly and I cannot leave willingly. I write the love poems for your beauties so as to put a good word in for me so you don’t not throw me away.
My wrinkles remember you of your wrinkles, my miserable end of your miserable end. Once I had strong wings, I carried you to happy lands, I had long and sharp claws to protect you from your enemies. Once I was strong and resistant, but not anymore.
Your belles are performing a belly dance for you, they are so tempting. I am admiring and watching them furtively through the crack. Then I go to my place and give it a try too. I’m moving my body to the rhythm. I can also move my belly. It’s tiring, I sit down a bit and imagine how I am an amazing dancer too, in front of you, I dance the prettiest and you tell me: “You’re the best, Antonia!”
I asked you nicely not to relegate me. I can bring milk to your ruined painters. I can guard your door and your belles’ doors. I can do anything, just don’t relegate me, I am still useful. Don’t you believe me? You don’t. And that is the wise thing to do. I am cunning and mean and I write and I dislike this room. This empty space is making me sick. If you want, I draw something. I write a poem. Or shall I sing to you?

I watch the window with the cat. Today it is missing. It’s for the better. Its pitiful helplessness when the sparrows (on the outside) were dancing on the sill mocking it was contagious. Surly, at first they might have gotten scared at seeing the fussing cat at the other side of the window. But after that, they probably even enjoyed tormenting it; look, we are so close but you cannot do anything to us, no matter how much you scratch the glass with your claws. A pussycat is bathing in the sun. It is stretching out on the sill and enduring the uneducated and rude sparrows.

My solitude is like a dress!
I dance with it in the big room
The dress fluffs, vibrates, plays,
With thousands of laces, plaits, veils.
My solitude is like a dress!
I wear it on holidays, on my birthday, in the evening.
The most perfect, magnificent, fascinating dress.
I want to be a naked woman!
And I want you to come too!

I am creating for you women that you’ll grow fond of. You are like a sultan, you possess all my beautiful women, you have all my seductive men. And they all love you.
I have to write horribly awful revolting nauseating! To make incredible mistakes, to repeat myself idiotically! To make you grasp your head and to ban me to your beautiful women, to your seductive men!

The painful sensation that you have given something precious away from you and that the other didn’t root, didn’t sprout up. That you have invested in vain. That the other one lied and took advantage. That you put your soul at the disposal for a false cause, for a cheap, idiot, empty and second hand thing. You return crushed from an invisible battle.

I am a gentle animal; I am a beautiful horse. And what rampant mane I possess! You take me for a stroll. I am obedient, submissive and I take you to lands increasingly beautiful. And you wonder: we didn’t go too far or too quick, but the place to which I brought you is wonderful! I am a white horse that you ride with pleasure. You are happy and heading towards the awaiting lover. She says: “I am waiting for my lover on a white horse!” And let’s not forget about the roses, about which I also wrote in other poems, but at that time I was a dog (“I met you on the street/ you were with a good-looking and elegant lady,/ you pretended not to see me,/ the lady was holding a flower in her hand,/ a typical rotten rose,/ but it was your flower, it was precious and holy,/ and she was biting one petal at a time/ and I was shedding a soft tear each time/ from my eye and from my nose/ in four legs behind her/ I was licking a petal road/ —I also had something from you!—/ the lady put the last petal on her tongue and reached out to you,/ and you smelled it lingeringly,/ alternating you and her, the dogs that were following you/ didn’t preoccupy you at all/ I was wagging my tail stupidly,/ the lady didn’t even kick me with her foot…/ once you had given me flowers too/ and had kissed me, what beautiful hair you have, what a body, but most of all, what legs!/ And the dog melodramatically wove her tail,/ sadly pricked up its ears…”). I must admit that I like being a horse best. Your lover caresses me and gives me something sweet to eat, I don’t bite her and I don’t hit her with my hoof. But I love you more than her.
I tell myself that to play by oneself is surely against nature. The window tree shelters two loving doves. It is nice outside. The time is waiting for me. The doves play and I despise them because they are two and I am just one. Today they pinch themselves (they probably bill and coo), smooch lovingly by the neck one at the time; I've never seen something like this before! I only notice the small things when I write; dogs, cats, sparrows which all become very significant in my solitude. The tree shelters and shades me as it rustles. A vigorous branch is half a meter away from my window; in case of an earthquake or if the thieves/ burglars burst into (God forbid!) my room, I will jump off the window and grab the branch! Maybe one day the tree will become a prince and will pay me a visit, with a great bunch of leaves… I also have the right to be sometimes, rarely, just a romantic cow.
Somewhere in the crowd, in a room, we meet, we recognize each other and the unexpected encounter moves us emotionally. We are both vibrating. I flee quickly around the corner; I take the paper and start to write about these wonderful things. The way we touch, the way we kiss. When I’m tired of writing, I stand and remember about you and go in search of you. But the room is empty. Everybody is gone. You didn’t know how to stop me, to rip my paper and take me with you. There are, I don't deny it, real stories too.

I had a strange gift of premonition. Actually, everything was a joke, but sometimes, some of them come true. I knew I was going to suffer, I knew you would leave, I knew I would die, and I was writing about this. I knew that at that time we wouldn’t care that much about poems. And I was right. The forward looking literature is harsh. It is painful to put your finger on the nearly promising suffering. That drove you away. Not me, I was the right woman, not too good, but not worse than the others either. But I was telling you: tomorrow this is going to happen to you, and the day after tomorrow this. When I was saying that my dance is not perfect, that you were looking for a real ballerina and that you want a perfect dance, I was lying and hoping to deny it. But you believed me. When the ballerina finally appeared, you hugged her sheltering and danced with her the big love. What a rusty Cassandra, I! Nowadays, mythology doesn’t play anymore. Contemporary dance. Performance.

Antonia finally came to us. She was exciting and attentive to what was happening with her (in the surroundings). Indifferent, lazy, behold the long awaited prey. A soft music could be heard, a private atmosphere and relaxation. She started to dance tantalizingly with the rhythm of the music. Almost naked, she was only wearing a veil. No one wanted to be the first, to touch her (to expose himself in front of everybody and, who knows, to make a fool of himself). She wasn’t very attractive, but she was alive and sensual. “The Buttons!” we didn’t know where her buttons were to adjust her the way we wanted. She was too hot, we sow it from the very beginning. We pushed, we touched, but she still remained alight and hot. I forgot to mention, Antonia was full of humid orifices, sensual reverberating lips, to which we were attracted like flies. Our hands were caressing uselessly the whole body of robot-Antonia. A robot which was offering to us itself totally, who excites us against our wills and desires. Gradually, her body changed color, from pink it became sallow and then grey, as a corpse. A husky and authoritarian voice of a woman who smokes a lot. It follows the guilty bliss and our hate, the hate of those clenched without hope of getting out, of finding a way out of the bounded orifices. Her hungry impatience. She takes a knife and she separates us heartlessly from her. She throws us out the window unhappy and emasculated. And Antonia remained swollen and fat, filled with creating penises. A fertile Antonia. “You enter, but you have to leave a piece of you inside. In every work you exist too. In her way, Antonia was a melody, a book, a painting” (the moral).

Come in, with my golden and delicate brush, I shall transform you into a story. The colors of happiness will penetrate your skin.
In reality you will know my deepest secrets.
In reality you will see the future, the wonders.
When you wake up, you will be disappointed and cruel, you will want to kill me, you will look for me. Don’t find me.
I am innocent.

Excerpts from the novels Negrissimo (2003) and The Empire of the Spinsters (forthcoming). Translations by Ioana Coman.

See also Norbert Schliewe’s work, Performance für Sprache, Erhu und Lichtillusion.

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