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Always Waiting for the Train

by Liliana Ursu

translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter

I am waiting for the train
The lazy freight from Lewisburg.
The iron lines run
right through my backyard
One hundred percent American.
Its cars are like
the alphabet book I had as a child
full of little pockets
stuffed with letters.

I was waiting for the train to pass.
I adored the passion of its long whistle
during the nights of frosted windows
or those born in battalions of crickets
in my Carpathian town.
And when no train passed,
I imagined
the most beautiful train in the world.

I’ve always waited for a train,
a desert caravan
a meadow blanketed in tears

Or hills rolling through Moldova
when we were children asleep
one hand under our heads, the other in the stars.

Lewisburg, the Poet’s Cottage, 8. 21. 2003


Liliana Ursu is a poet, prose writer, and translator with eighteen books published in Romania. Her work has been translated into many languages, including four books in English. She lives in Bucharest, teaching courses in poetry and creative writing, producing occasional radio programs for România culturala, and writing. She has received two Fulbright grants and taught creative writing at the University of Louisville and at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. (4/2009)

Sean Cotter has translated several books from Romanian, including Liliana Ursu’s Goldsmith Market (2003) and Lightwall (forthcoming in June 2009). He is a professor of literature and translation studies at The University of Texas at Dallas, where he is part of the Center for Translation Studies. (4/2009)

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