Miruna Vlada is a poet, researcher and lecturer in Eastern European Studies at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA) in Bucharest. Born in 1986, the writer saw her debut collection, Extrauterin poems, published at only 16-years-old. Since then, she has released three more collections: The Break Between the Veins, Bosnia. Repartition, and her latest volume, Premature. Premature served as a home for the poems below, rooted in Vlada’s personal experiences, as well as the current debates on child rearing. It also touches on Romania’s past — particularly Nicolae Ceaușescu’s ban on abortion in 1967, a law which was only revoked with the fall of communism in 1990. Vlada is part of PEN Romania, and is currently working on a novel.
I don’t want my ovaries.
Do I have the right not to want them?
Can I be born with this right?
I just want to knock them
like two Easter eggs, called into question:
has He risen? is it true that He has risen?
for of course our mothers made us social animals,
based on copulating.
for of course society itself is, at some point,
the product of the fertility of social mother-animals.
I created you I can destroy you,
said my ovaries and my mother’s ovaries at the same time
How can you have children
when you have a mother that doubts you?
this is true self-marginalisation.
our interactions are monetised in Silicon Valley
& in the Kremlin
and our lack of interactions is monetised
in Silicon Valley
& in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem
white men have fun
white men become rich
out of our desire to touch
out of the absence of embraces out of our psychosis they make money
I am the embodiment of the lack of connection between mother and foetus.
I am the generation of Barbie-minded girls,
that arrived in Romania in the 90’s without Ken. he turned up later and
he was more expensive.
you don’t have a job, you can’t afford a child;
you have a job, you don’t have time for a child
this is the anthem of our generation
I am a monument dedicated to those around me and their opinions.
flare fat and cellulite
contorted into the hands of strangers. My reliable self.
I feel they are following me on the streets at night.
I feel their breath in the back of my neck & pelvis.
do it. do it. do it. why do you do it? why don’t you do it?
Stay safe! Don’t have kids
Come on, girl, break the cycle of pain passed down from one
generation to another!
only you have control over your body.
only you tell it to stop. you come whenever you want. if you want.
an unwanted pregnancy is the first step
or even losing one’s
“nada” in Bosnian
not in Spanish
it’s either hope
something invisible and indivisible to cling to
possibly an organism that has been genetically modified so that it does not reproduce
it only reproduces all the regurgitated clichés
of a generation whose power and hot water
was cut off every night
in order to save money
who queued for several decades and
thought the only more dignified thing to do was to listen to Europe,
to “Radio Free Europe” and to make stupid jokes
about an inept dictator
who dreamed of putting Romania on the world map next to Iran
when his people dreamed of only a little heat in the radiators
in his matchboxes
all of them mingled in our history small dreams big dreams
meat dreams with
wet geopolitical dreams
you need more electricity to see reality
they dreamed of meat and chocolate and bananas and oranges
and now you only dream of state-settled vasectomies
surgeries to reduce the reproductive appetite
minimally invasive removal of the biological clock of the brain
you are the descendant of a colony of witches who
denied their uterus
welcome to my life, prosecutors of empathy
I need to re-teach my body to be safe
We are a society born
from underage girls
and educated by retirees and social workers.
Himalayan women drink apricot wine and can give birth even at 65
A culture of abuse
gives birth to women who no longer want to give birth
who no longer want to take part in the abuse.
I eat instead of cutting my veins.
I am sensitive I have an aversion to violent and radical acts
I prefer something warm like choosing to slowly bury myself in
narcissism and helplessness
it’s just a nervous system more prone to burnout
under certain circumstances, abortion is a civic duty
I always unwrapped the rotten part of an orange.
Only the rotten part of an orange.
And from this part I said no.
there are only three types - primipara, multiparous, nulliparous.
in their medical records I am nulliparous
- by that I mean that I never gave birth.
to me our best friends are
the condom, the IUD, the injectable contraceptives or
the surgical sterilisation.
our grandmothers were grand multiparous - over five births
wow, what a flick-flack in just one generation!
we are the first women in Romania
that have children when we want.
we know we don’t have to be a replica of what
The men from the Romanian Orthodox Church in our country
The men from the Romanian Academy
The men who are CEOs
The men from the National Bank
The men in the Writers’ Union
The male cosmetic surgeons
it’s cool to be nulliparous
you have no worries and you have more free time
but you have an increased risk of breast cancer
it’s a barter
you gain freedom along with cervical cancer