Doina Ruști

The Book of Perilous Dishes (Mâța Vinerii)

The Book of Perilous Dishes (Mâța Vinerii) - Doina Ruști
Polirom Publishing, 2018 (Romanian)
The Book of Perilous Dishes (Mâța Vinerii) - Doina Ruști
Polirom Publishing, 2017 (Romanian)

The flight

At the crack of dawn, Maxima was taken out into the square under the gaze of the scavengers sweeping around the Walachisches Tor. I knew what would follow. I gathered a few things and left by the back door. The butchers carrying beef carcasses passed me without a glance. I walked quickly to the end of the street. All around it was deserted, although I could imagine that all eyes would be pressed against curtains. When I got to Burchioiu’s house I realized that I simply walk past, especially as the wind was blowing on the veranda and the door seemed ajar. Had I had the strength of spirit, I would have cut his throat. Burchioiu was in a deep, dreamless sleep. I tarried for a minute, my only care being that I might lose something, one of the many small things that I was attached to. All my power was contained in the yellow dress, which Maxima had made for me from nankeen and velvet, with pockets, flounces, and cuffs enough to hold the contents of a whole chest. What didn’t I have hidden in that dress! Salts, seeds, and powders, little phials of amonitum under oil, aqua phosphori, the flower of death, and so many other things that a lifetime would not suffice to tell of them all. I never went anywhere without my little box of saltpetre, in which thousands of sparks lay dormant.

Trans. James Ch Brown