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All the museums are afraid of me,
Because each time I spend a whole day
In front of a painting
The next day they announce
The painting’s disappeared.

Every night I’m caught stealing
In another part of the world,
But I don’t even care
About the bullets hissing toward my ear,
And the police dogs who are onto
The smell of my tracks,
Better than lovers who know
The perfume of their mistress.

I talk to the canvases that put my life in danger,
Hang them from clouds and trees,
Step back for some perspective.
You can easily engage the Italian masters in conversation.

What noise of colors!
And hence I’m caught
Very quickly with them,
Seen and heard from a distance
As if I had a parrot in my arms.

The hardest to steal is Rembrandt:
Stretch a hand out, there’s darkness —
The terror seizes you, his men don’t have bodies,
Just closed eyes in dark cellars.

Van Gogh’s canvases are insane,
They whirl and roll their heads,
And you have to hold on tight
With both hands,
They’re sucked by a force from the moon.

I don’t know why, Breughel makes me want to cry.
He wasn’t any older than me,
But they called him the old man
Because he knew it all when he died.

I try to learn from him too
But can’t stop my tears
From flowing over the gold frames
When I run off with The Four Seasons under my armpits.

As I was saying, every night
I steal one painting
With enviable dexterity.
But the road’s very long

So I’m caught in the end
And get home late at night
Tired and torn to shreds by dogs
Holding a cheap imitation in my hands.

Marin Sorescu, "Paintings" from Hands Behind My Back, translated by Gabriela Dragnea, Stuart Friebert, and Adriana Varga. Copyright © 1991 by Oberlin College Press.  Reprinted by permission of Oberlin College Press.
Source: Hands Behind My Back (Oberlin College  Press, 1991)
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