Chernobyl Days
By Claudia Serea

We heard about it
on Radio Free Europe.

Weeks later,
they distributed at school
to each of us, two small white pills
of potassium iodine per day

and wrapped the door handles in gauze
moistened with disinfectant.

Some of my classmates never took them.

Apartment keys tied around their necks,
kids played outside all day
as usual.

Summer came quickly
with no birds.

Mom bought us cherries
from the market,

so rare,
she couldn’t pass them by—
and washed them really well.

They glistened on the plate.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot and Apple Valley Review, among others. Serea is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervena Barva Press, 2015), and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, NJ. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month.