excerpt I was half asleep in a somewhat uncertain state of mind (and of body)… A vague and – at first – terribly tortuous state of wakefulness was gently falling over me; then, the same confounded "state" came back floating over me, translucent, like some veils unbraided and then braided back again – but eventually torn like so many ragged swaddling clothes. I was dozing in the sweet torpor that occurs when all your senses are drowsy. I was slumbering, oscillating, swinging, groping between day and night. In such a minutely dozing atmosphere I was listening, hearing in my sleep the long-forsaken, languorous Sad Waltzes with the certainty that the record (the gramophone record, naturally) would stop on its own, dutifully, right to the tick, when the sad waltz ended. My siesta was growing more and more steamy, smoky and sweetly enveloping. Of my last dreams I could only remember one fragment, which I caught close to the tip of its tail (the other dreams dissipated like a pack of ghosts). I memorized it quickly and very terre à terre, in a manner which is prosaic to say the least. It was like this: a cloud, a chubby and smug super-cloud with pointed ends like a string of lambskin caps, kept sprawling and rolling about in the sky like a whirligig. This fickle cumulonimbus kept spinning whirligigishly, so much so that I could hardly make out that it was also a well articulated, and well tailored, cloud that had for annexes some multicolored sashes in which all the colors of the rainbow succeeded one another fleetingly, while some playful shades were smoking in a sort of hand-mill around the abdomen of the fluffy cumulonimbus. All of a sudden, however, the giant began, strips and all, to break apart – not fray out – going, with immeasurable speed, through numberless faces and colors, but also shapes: structures and stripes even more undulating and bewilderingly winding… and then its upper part burst out in what looked and sounded like a heavenly hail, a genuine outflow of silvery hosts. A hail speckled with streaks of lightning flashes making up stunning fireworks. It must have been superb! Eventually it began to take contour: all around, the pointed head of the giant suddenly took off, rounding off into a magical cupola, a unique dome – a corolla floating like a gliding parachute ribbed with many small, multicolored stripes. Meanwhile, the lower part of the fantastic heavenly barrel had taken up an increasingly maimed and swarthy appearance, growing thinner, liquefying and running down like a ribbon, like the tail of a dead buffalo cow, like a slobbering snake absorbed, drawn rapidly and irresistibly into a whirl… It was all one… I woke up in a pool of sweat. Outside, thunder was roaring and rain was pouring down in torrents. I was sheltered and I could even feel happy for I had her next to me, in her black gown, in sharp contrast with the whiteness of the sheets. She was resting, dutiful and silky next to the pillowcase, her head tilting languidly towards me, like a question mark, maybe a tenderness mark as well. Who can tell?! Objects have, perhaps, their own language, their own affection. There was nothing funereal, however, about this black-white­ symmetry; quite to the contrary, we might say, if we were to remember how in the summer of 1934, in Bucharest, after his only wedding of special magnificence at the Country Club (his marriage to painter Pascin's niece), our beloved Petru Comarnescu was surprised to find his eerie wife stark-naked and snow white – but for the scarlet lips, the black varnished nails and the eyebrows and lashes (also painted) – lying in black linen sheets (a black bride's trousseau ordered for this very purpose at Josephine Demeter's Fine Lingerie on Royal street). The nuptial spectacle must have splendidly visual – and most probably the charming groom and art historian will have regretted for a moment the absence (or presence) of Salvador Dali in the ephemeral black and white conjugal alcove. But how utterly different was the present situation. Naturally, after having long craved for her, I was now delighted to finally have her next to me (and so close, too), to admire her folds, so black they seemed almost dark-blue, and her trim figure (her distinctive mark was a small golden trimming around her body which, at some point, became thinner and thinner, ending in a single foot – a perfectly round and almost invisible peduncle clad in a protective thimble of copper-coated steel).Just like the body, the head of the umbrella had been carved (who knows by what craftsman) out of a stout bamboo branch with small amber-colored, lumpy knots, while on the head, which was rounded like that of a walking stick, eight silver tacks were nailed.The whole umbrella reverberated with singularly good taste and distinction – which was confirmed when, upon studying it more closely, I discovered its origins: on the inner articulations of one of the springs I deciphered a minute description ascertaining she was a genuine umbrella made by the supplier of the Court of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Empress of the Indies, Victoria!Her noble origins made her even dearer to me – not to mention the felicitous occurrence of having come across her on the banks of the Dambovitza, on Shelari street, in a shop crammed with bric-à-bracs and trifles of any description – hidden among the cues and whitish ivory balls of an absent billiards table – my umbrella was leaning against a handsome woman's corset on a dummy bust.More important was, however, the fact that, during the two weeks which had almost elapsed since I had become the master – but also the slave – of this object that I was growing increasingly fond of (as an object), keeping it close to me – the skies could not be moved even by the rain makers to yield a single rain drop for me to break her in.And here I was, at dawn, woken from my dreams by the charitable rain raging and rapping against the windows, gurgling down drain pipes and gutters.In a split second I was out at the gate, ready to stretch her springs and her silk surface which, either for joy or for distress gave out a crackling sound louder than the groan of a rheumatic.Thus sheltered underneath the majestic black jellyfish I ventured out into the streets to face the curtains of water. The streets were nearly deserted.The baptism of the umbrella took place as we went: each drop of rain fell clearly, distinctly, as if pointed out by an invisible drummer, their rhythm like a musical rap. A genuine liquid wrath had been unleashed over the city… it was a stubborn, ever thicker rain, almost a downpour – and my new-found "umbrelliferous" passion was in the end generously rewarded by this infinite heavenly litany…I was strolling victoriously down the street, now – finally – washed, its cobbles shining again and looking even rosy here and there, evoking the genuine color of the quarries in the mountains they originally came from. What a bliss to be able to saunter across the street perfectly protected under the heavenly shower, to feel the smell – now almost forgotten by town dwellers – of the leaves and bark of old trees, to see the metropolis coming to life, filling with countless mirrors – everything seemed marvelous and fresh…When, all of a sudden, in the multiple gushing, a slender figure darted towards me from under a chestnut tree. The dripping wet lass was wearing a transparent, lilac-colored dress, now clinging to her body (a genuine living bas-relief) took shelter under my protective umbrella and, without rhyme or reason, rattled off like a lunatic: Look, the rain is knittingLand and skies together,With a silver weavingSpun by windy weather… I was stunned – especially since the disheveled, trembling young girl had ardently pressed her body against mine (I was obviously not only spruce, but completely dry).My free hand became, on the spot, her gentle prop; then, indulgently, as we both advanced through the watery warp, I invited her for a walk to dry up a little. We went into the first coffee-house that we chanced upon – it was on Roman street, not far from Dorobantzilor Road – Coterbic's Coffee-House.I was a regular of the place, famous for its rectangular bars of authentic pistachio ice-cream.But there could be no talk of ice-cream now.Mistress Sultana Coterbic, the kind-hearted keeper of the coffee-house, fetched some towels and dried up my Asphodela (this is how she introduced herself) as well as she could, then she also brought two steaming cups of cocoa with cream topping (the whiteness and freshness of the cream combined marvelously with the hot darkness of the chocolate).We were then brought two glasses of cognac. We doubled and tripled the order.The atmosphere had become warmly friendly.As I watched the rain fall, out of the shop window, it seemed to me we were in some sort of unreal aquarium, in a sweet and discreet reservation. Not a soul entered the coffee-house to disturb our ever more loving dialogue; mistress Sultana was busying herself mostly in the back of the shop and in the "laboratory", wherefrom she indulged us with custards and two more glasses of cognac. The rain had long stopped and now an overly bright and licentious sunset had enveloped us, casting a reddish flush on our faces, our arms, our hearts, our shop windows. It was growing dark and the owner of the coffee-shop had to close down for the night. We left overwhelmed, arm in arm, our bodies close against each other, ungratefully abandoning, in a corner of the coffee-shop, the beloved umbrella which was shabbily dripping the tears of its first and last rain. Post scriptum: Ami fidèle, ami nouveauQui contre le commun usage,Nous abandonne s'il fait beauEt nous revient au temps d'orage.Eugène SCRIBE (1791 – 1861) Barbu Brezianu (1909-2008) is first of all a poet, but also an art critic (Karl Storck, Nicolae Grigorescu, Tonitza, Brancusi in Romania), contributor to Romanian and international magazines, a regular of symposia both in his country and abroad, and an exquisite poetry translator (François Villon, Shakespeare, Kipling, the Finnish national epic Kalevala).

by Barbu Brezianu (1909-2008)