Transient sculptures
of light and shadow,
they drift without haste,
carrying rains and dreams
to other horizons.

When I watch
their flowing shapes,
my thoughts become birds,
gliding high
in whispers of water.

They dissolve
in veiled embraces
that hide the Sun and the stars,
while my suspended breath
is expanding,
reaching out
for you.


Sculpturi trecătoare
de lumină și umbră,
plutesc fără grabă,
purtând ploi și vise
către alte orizonturi.

Când privesc
formele lor curgătoare,
gândurile mele devin păsări,
planând sus
în șoapte de apă.

Se dizolvă
în îmbrățișări voalate
care ascund Soarele și stelele,
în timp ce respirația mea suspendată
se dilată,
spre tine.





A deep voice radiating strength and confidence broke the silence:

“Perhaps you should let me handle the situation?”

The moment the man spoke, the paralysis went away. Kolin finally could turn around. He found himself facing a tall, muscular fellow, wearing a light-blue shirt and black pants. The man, perhaps in his early thirties, produced a friendly smile. His blonde hair glimmered in a short haircut that framed harmonious features. His blue eyes radiated self-confidence, reflecting the sparse clouds from the almost-serene sky.

As a confirmation of his status, a circular patch was visible on the left side of his chest: the symbol of Two Waves, one of the deadliest martial arts on Atlantide. It wasn’t the usual mark of an advanced practitioner but the patch of a master. 

What was a master doing here, on the Iron Rock? No way! He couldn’t be interested in the thing underwater, could he? However, the more Kolin thought about it, the more he had to admit this was the most likely scenario. 

The boys had just a few seconds to examine the master. With unreal speed, the man took off his shirt, shoes, and trousers. A muscular body stood before them for a fraction of a second. Only in underwear, the master rushed to the edge of the platform. He dived head-down into the sea, almost without making a splash. 

The teenagers bent down over the edge again, trying to track his location several meters below the waves. The water was quite clear, and the master should have been easily visible, except they couldn’t glimpse him at all. He had vanished. 

The seconds kept pouring with agonizing slowness. Perhaps twenty, perhaps more. Already over a minute had passed since Lila’s disappearance. Then something briefly moved underwater, farther away and more to the left. Soon, the master’s head broke the foamy surface, breathing deeply. Lila’s face emerged after a second, coughing and gasping for air. She looked scared but remained calm, letting the stranger’s strong arms keep her afloat from behind. The master came closer to the edge of the Iron Rock, holding the girl’s head above the waves with his right hand. 

“We don’t have a rope,” Solis shouted. “I’m afraid you might have to go around the rock and use the stone steps from the other side.”

It was low tide, and the platform’s edge loomed almost three meters above the sea. 

“That’s all right,” the master replied. “I don’t need a rope. Can you catch the girl if I throw her to you?”

“What do you mean?” Kolin began, but the man and Lila had already disappeared underwater. One moment later, they broke the surface again, this time at high speed. The master pushed the girl upwards with a decided move. She flew high in the air like a rubber toy, reaching the platform edge as he sank once more below the waves. Surprised, the boys managed to grab her arms and legs at the last moment, pulling her up.

Full of anxiety, the youngsters laid the girl down on the rough surface. Lila coughed a few times, then her breathing calmed down. Her face was pale, but she didn’t seem hurt. The boys stretched over the edge to check on the master, just in time to see him leaping out of the water and gracefully landing on the platform, only a couple of meters away from them.  

“How did you do that?” Solis asked.

“You mean the jump?” the man laughed. “It’s not that hard. I’ve dived deeper and let the pressure push me up the way dolphins do. It would have been way more difficult if I wanted to jump this high on land.”

It sounded simple and certainly was doable for someone who could move so fast in the water. Still, Kolin had never seen any human leap out of the sea like a dolphin. Not until now, anyway. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t have been that hard for a master of Two Waves. 

Lila was already feeling better. After a few more fits of coughing, she slowly stood up between the two boys and examined the master inquisitively. The three teenagers were staring at the tall man with an unvoiced question on their lips. 

As if reading their thoughts, he laughed and said:

“I suppose you’re wondering why someone like me is here. Well, I have actually come to retrieve THAT.” 


Shaking awake
from silver threads of dreams,
morning pours
over mountains.

Tired muscles
play once more
a solar symphony
of sweat and toil.

Soon, all the hay
will rest inside,
green treasure
stored in silence
for winter’s cold.

In golden whispers,
it will lie, waiting
to quench the hunger
of gentle cows.

Held in the Sun’s tight embrace,
I take a peek
at the clear sky.

I breathe out,
my hands raise again
the pitchfork with a long handle,
and another bundle of straws
flies inside the barn.



Wisdom is an ethereal treasure
never confined,
always lingering
behind leaves and sunsets,
an iron infant guarded by stars
during cold nights.

In its depth hides a student
who has experienced the dawn of the world
and reads all the songs,
and sings all the books,
and prays to the grass and sand
in flickers of rainbows.

Come closer,
step on the stones covered by moss,
and open this fruit of light.

The night is coming to an end.
It’s time to wake up,
to win back your youth.


La sagesse est un trésor éthéré,
jamais confiné,
toujours en suspens
derrière les feuilles et les couchers de soleil,

toujours en suspens
derrière les feuilles et les couchers de soleil,
un petit enfant de fer gardé par les étoiles
pendant les nuits froides.

Dans ses profondeurs se cache un étudiant
qui a connu l’aube du monde
et lit toutes les chansons,
et chante tous les livres,
et prie l’herbe et le sable
dans des éclats d’arc-en-ciel.

marche sur les pierres couvertes de mousse,
et ouvre ce fruit de lumière.

La nuit s’achève.
Il est temps de te réveiller,
de retrouver ta jeunesse.







Înțelepciunea e o comoară eterică
niciodată închisă,
mereu rătăcitoare
în spatele frunzelor și al apusurilor de soare,
un prunc din fier păzit de stele
în nopțile reci.

În adâncul său se ascunde un student
care a cunoscut zorii lumii
și citește toate cântecele,
și cântă toate cărțile,
și se roagă ierbii și nisipului
în pâlpâiri de curcubeu.

calcă pe pietrele acoperite de mușchi
și deschide acest fruct de lumină.

Noaptea se apropie de sfârșit.
E timpul să te trezești,
să-ți recâștigi tinerețea.







“Un’, du, tri, ek!”
The soft female voice counting in the local language stopped abruptly as a wave crashed into the shore with thundering noise. In a flash, three pairs of bare feet started running through the deserted park. They rushed with all their might into the foamy sea, quickly crossing the narrow sandy beach and disappearing under the tepid waters of Zefiria.
Soon, three pairs of shoulders were popping above the surface every couple of seconds. In a storm of splashes, lean legs and arms pushed hard to move away from the shore. Their aim: the dark outline of the Iron Rock. And the girl was winning, being already several meters ahead.
Kolin gave up first. He turned face-up and began floating on his back, trying to calm his heartbeats and propelling himself with his feet. Solis persisted almost to the finish, trying stubbornly to catch up. But in the end, Lila won.
The girl pumped her left fist high in the air, grabbed the thin metal rails mounted at the edge of the rock, and got out of the water. Her slender body radiated joy and beauty like an opening rose. Solis arrived a few moments later, coughing and breathing hard. Then the two teenagers patiently waited for another two minutes until Kolin caught up with them.
It was a bright and pleasant afternoon, right before the monsoon season. The white buildings from Akonit flickered in the east, close to the coast. Westwards, the fringes of Lavand bathed in the orange halo of the Sun. To the south and farther away, the white peak of Erol glittered at the edge of the sky, marking the highest local point of the Centrian mountain chain.
“Well?” Lila said. “I’ve won the bet!”
“Yes, you did,” Solis replied with a resigned expression. “Perhaps we shouldn’t let you do the counting next time.”
“Haha! You think it would make any difference?” the girl laughed.
“I suppose not,” Solis agreed, his shoulders slumping in defeat.
“Time to show me the spot,” the girl demanded, raising her eyebrows and sticking out her tongue.
With a deep sigh, Solis stood up and motioned the other two teenagers to follow him. Kolin already knew the location but preferred to let his friend lead. They would have told Lila about it in a few days, after they made sure there was no danger, but Solis had forgotten to keep his mouth shut in a conversation at school. Lila had immediately challenged them to a swimming race, knowing they could not refuse her. She was cunning enough to come here alone and explore the rock for as long as needed until she found the spot herself. And that meant she might eventually not come home until late at night. It was best to avoid this kind of situation.
The Iron Rock was a rather peculiar place. Its regular shape did not look like nature’s work. Some people believed it used to be the foundation of an enormous building from an older civilization, a launchpad capable of sending people all the way up into space. Yet, it had been so long since those times that most locals treated it as a legend. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful legend.
The island had the shape of a slightly convex circular platform about fifty meters in diameter. Its outer edge was vertical, rising almost two meters above the sea level at high tide. The side facing the coast had a spot where a few dozen steps carved in stone and flanked by metal rails reached into the sea, allowing a potential visitor to climb on it. The island’s surface — rough and not entirely level — was made of a dark-blue stone almost as hard as iron. That supposedly had given the rock the name. It also pretty much explained how it had survived the sea’s abrasion for so many centuries.
Solis motioned Lila and Kolin to follow him to the side facing away from the coast. He examined the rock, then bent down over the edge, looking for something deep underwater. A few moments later, he straightened his back, walked several more meters to the left, and bent down again.
“Here it is,” he said. “I’ve marked the spot with chalk near the edge, but yesterday’s rain almost erased it. However, it’s still too early to see it now. We have to wait for the sunset.”
“That’s at least thirty more minutes,” Kolin remarked. “What are we going to do until then?”
“What about diving into the water right now?” Lila suggested. “We might still see something.”
“I’m not sure this is a good idea,” Solis countered. “We know nothing about it. Could be dangerous.”
“You said it hasn’t moved from its location for almost a week,” the girl insisted. “Can’t be radioactive ‘cause you told me fish were swimming nearby all the time, and no one died. We have our goggles. They should be enough to take a peek. The sea is less than ten meters deep here.”
“I’d rather wait to see the light first,” Kolin said, looking uneasy.
“Suit yourself,” Lila snorted. “I’ll check it right now.”
With decided steps, the girl moved to the platform’s edge, jumped high in the air, and dived head-down into the dark-blue water.
The boys winced in unison. They hurriedly bent their necks over the side, staring with worried gazes at the trail of bubbles left by Lila’s sinking body. No doubt, she was now close to it. Ten seconds passed, then ten more. The girl didn’t return to the surface. And they could not spot her anywhere deep down.
“Something’s wrong,” Kolin said, stating the obvious. “I’ll dive after her. Assist me from here in case I need help.” Although he was the slowest swimmer, he could hold his breath underwater longer than his friends.
Before he could to jump from the platform, a firm hand grabbed his shoulder from behind. The boy felt paralyzed. His body froze. His muscles seemed to turn into stone. He wanted to scream but couldn’t utter the slightest sound. The hand didn’t belong to Solis. Someone else had just sneaked in noiselessly, like a water snake.

白蓮 – Hakuren – White Lotus – Lotus Alb – Blanka Lotuso

白蓮 映す

Niwa no asa
hakuren utsusu
tooi yama

Dawn in the garden – 
a white lotus reflecting
the distant mountain

Zori în grădină –
lotusul alb reflectă
piscul din zare

Ĝardenmateno –
blank’ lotuso reflektas
la monton foran

poem & photo: Marian C. Ghilea


Flash One: Cassiopeia (I)

The late-night sky looked unfriendly, even slightly threatening. It floated, like a mantle, above the dense foliage that surrounded the river. Despite the dark-green carpet of grass that caressed his feet, it was actually cold, close to freezing. He had decided to spend the night here, in the tent. Away from the city’s noise, without a radio or a phone.

A full Moon painted in the color of blood was rising above the pine-covered mountains. His gaze focused on it for a moment, then moved higher until it reached the trembling lights of the five stars that sketched the big “W” shape of Cassiopeia. A grin came across his face as he recognized the familiar constellation. The man stretched his arms to the sides like a pair of wings, imagining he could soar all the way up to the edge of space.

He had set up the tent already, right before sunset. The weariness brought on by a long and tiring day was slowly sinking in, taking control of his body. He glanced at the sky one more time, then disappeared inside the canvas dome. The sleeping bag swallowed him at once, like a cocoon. Soon, a heavy slumber enveloped his thoughts in a halo of dreams. The dreams took control of his mind, coming and going in fuzzy whirlpools of colors and shapes. With them came a feeling that someone from a different space and time was watching him.

The sound of the stream flowing a few paces away became louder. Frequent splashes in the shallow waves were interrupting its flow. He woke up.

Must be a boar looking for roots and seeds on this side, the man thought. Perhaps I should check it out. He reached for the lantern and sneaked out of the tent, light off. A few quiet steps got him to the water’s edge. No boar was there.

The stream glistened in the moonlight, alien and uninviting. Dark shapes were moving along it, marching or swimming upstream in parallel lines: hundreds and hundreds of fish-like creatures with long tails and lizard legs.

He turned on the lantern. The other bank had changed. Trees shaped like baobabs filled the opposite slope, their blue leaves reflecting the light of an invisible moon. The sky looked alien that way, too, with the spiral arms of an immense galaxy spreading over it.

Oblivious to his presence and ignoring the lantern beam, the creatures kept going on with their journey. Bluish sparks glistening in midair revealed the boundary between his world and the other reality. Looking upwards, he saw the border extending across the sky: a giant half-circle, dividing the Universe in two.

Above him, the same familiar stars were still shining. Wait, there was something different, something weird high above, in the Cassiopeia constellation. Right on top of the “W” shape and a little to the right, a new luminous dot was blazing, about as bright as Venus.

No, this can’t be true, he thought. His decent knowledge of astronomy reminded him of the supernova discovered and studied in detail by Tycho Brahe in 1572. Had he somehow slid back in time? Nonetheless, the landscape on this bank looked the same. Then what about the city? Of course, the urban center was too far away, and he had no means to make sure it was still there.

Suddenly, a breeze carrying warm air from the other bank blew onto his face. He noticed a movement on his left and felt a light touch on his shoulder. Something shaped like a butterfly had landed on the dark fabric of his jacket. It was an insect the size of a sparrow, with a blue body and wings covered in black and red patterns.

Time was slowly pouring into the night, its flow marked by the cadence of the creatures moving along the river bed. Time itself felt like a river streaming above the valley where the procession was taking place. Piece by piece, it was engulfing the watercourse and the scenery surrounding it. Now he could also hear drums in the distance. He felt the desire to cross the boundary grow more intense, like a rose spreading its petals in the morning sunlight.

The alien butterfly was still resting motionless on his shoulder: a delicate decoration glistening in the night. He decided to leave it alone, refraining from touching the fragile-looking wings. After moments that seemed to last an eternity, his feet moved forward.

A gentle electric discharge came through his fingertips when his right hand touched the border between the worlds. The loop of eternity shattered. The alien scenery faded away. Everything came back to the familiar configuration. High up in the sky, the bright star from Cassiopeia was no more.



is your birthday.

Enveloped in the grey distance
that separates us,
I can’t even give you a flower.

Instead, across this stretch
of space and time,
I will send you a smile,
a sunrise,
and a symphony of clouds
dancing playfully
in a little wisper
streaming from my heart.

Thank you,
for always being there,
always shining
for me!






Zi de naștere

este ziua ta de naștere.

Învăluit în distanța cenușie
care ne separă,
nu pot să-ți dăruiesc nici măcar o floare.

În schimb, peste această întindere
de spațiu și timp,
îți voi trimite un zâmbet,
un răsărit de soare
și o simfonie de nori
dansând jucăuș
într-o mică șoaptă
ce curge din inima mea.

pentru că ești mereu acolo,
mereu strălucind
pentru mine!


The first drops fall one hour before sunset. In the beginning, just a few. Then a hard downpour floods the deck. Every few seconds, electrical discharges cut deep irregular lines across the dark-crimson sky. Thunders follow immediately after the flashes, loud like cannon shots. The ocean has turned nasty. It appears set to bury our ship in its liquid hell. The wind gradually transforms into a gale. Many crewmen are working in a hurry to finish stowing the higher sails and stroking the lower ones. At the same time, a dozen hands are unfurling a single storm fore-topsail to maintain the ship’s direction under the strong wind.

Despite doing my best to make myself useful wherever I can, I’m barely moving back and forth along the deck. My legs are wading through a continuous stream of water, sometimes ankle-deep. My boots are slipping on the wet planks every few steps. I have to hold tightly onto backstays, shrouds, hawsers, gunwale, or anything else with some local stability that I can reach with my tired hands. Everyone else exposed to the elements is in the same situation.

While gazing up for a moment, I find out that the fore topmast and fore topgallant sails haven’t been fully stowed. This is obviously the work of less experienced hands. The crewmen are still up there, trembling shadows moving against intermittent flashes of light. Balancing on the wet footropes, the poor lads try to fix their mistakes as fast as possible. However, the wind is getting harsher by the minute, and they are having difficulties finishing their job.

With my vision blurred by gale and rain, I continue to supervise the sailors’ work from the deck. Soon, I notice two young crewmen near the main topgallant platform, working alone and having a lot of trouble untying the gaskets from the jackstay before stowing the topgallant sail. They are almost done with the starboard and are pushing hard to get quickly to the port side. Suddenly, the sailors stop and look upwards, visibly frightened. Above them, a diffuse green light surrounds the top of the mast and the edges of the royal’s yard.

This is a most unusual phenomenon. I want to examine it at a closer distance. Directed by the first lieutenant, all hands around me are busy with other urgent issues. Finishing unfurling the storm fore-topsail is one of them. The canvas hasn’t expanded in the wind. The sailors involved in the operation are moving frantically to fix its orientation. That’s why the captain wanted to test the new hands. This storm is the best exam he could find for them. The crew doesn’t need me on the deck anymore, so I decide to climb up the mainmast to investigate the unusual light. I’ll also use this opportunity to double-check how the upper sails are stowed.

Reaching the topgallant platform in this weather is a real challenge. I’m tossed back and forth like a rag doll by the powerful shakes of the ship. The high-amplitude rolling makes me hold the rigging tightly to prevent being thrown overboard. My boots are not so great for a good foothold on the ratlines, but they’ll have to do. I feel as if I were tied to a giant metronome. A metronome moving in fierce harmony with this deafening symphony of wind and water.

Soon, I arrive near the top, grab the futtock shrouds, and climb onto the narrow platform. I can see the scared faces of the crewmen within an arm’s length of me. They are just getting done stowing the sail. All the ship parts I can glimpse around dance chaotically under flashes of lightning. I take hold of the yard and step onto the footrope, double-checking the hands’ work and ignoring the glow from above.

“Looks fine! You may go back on the deck now!” I shout as loud as I can.

The youngsters seem to understand my words and slide down along the rigging. The rain continues to pour from above like a waterfall. I feel already giddy from the slow but ample rolling motion of Excelsior dancing on top of the waves. Yet, I manage to control my nausea without having to throw up. Anyway, my location is too high, too precarious to allow myself such weaknesses. I suppose “throw down” would be more appropriate, given the circumstances. Although, given the wind’s intensity, this wouldn’t be entirely true, either.

I’m doing a final check of the knots. They look tight enough. The light surrounding the top of the mast generates a tingling sensation on the crown of my head. I have climbed all the way here to investigate it, so I step higher on the ratlines, closer to the mysterious glow.

Down on the deck and close to the prow, five crewmen have just finished stowing other sails and got a few moments to breathe. They are looking in my direction, gesticulating and shouting something. With the ubiquitous roar of the storm, I can’t make out their words. I assume what they mean is something like: “St. Elmo’s fire!”

However, from what I have read in books or heard from the stories of a few sailors, I don’t remember St. Elmo’s fire appearing above a ship while it’s raining so heavily. In addition to this, people who saw it described its color as blue or violet, not green. And why is it not pushed away by wind and rain? Something is different here. As I continue to climb closer to it, the tingling sensation on the crown of my head intensifies.

Right at that moment, a flash of lightning strikes the top of the mast with an ear-shattering noise. I can feel its tremendous power through a wave of pain. The flame from above wraps tightly around me. Its surge of electricity passes through my skin, flesh, and bones. A taste of metal fills my mouth a moment later. My heart seems to stop for a moment, then resumes its hurried beating. My eardrums hurt from the violent bang. For a few long seconds, my muscles twitch in uncontrollable spasms. Then numbness fills up my body. I try to grab the cordage near me, but I’m not successful. My hands and feet are slipping off the ropes. I begin to fall towards the deck, slowly, like in a dream.

Sailing ships are rarely struck by lightning, yet this can still happen every once in a while. And this time, I happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. You can call it bad luck stretched to the extreme. Here it is, all mine to enjoy.

While sliding down, I notice how everything has become quiet all of a sudden. The wind’s whipping has ceased. Large, almost spherical beads of water dripping from the yards float around me, descending in slow motion towards the deck. The bolt that has just hit me still surrounds my body with a faint glimmer. The waves around the ship look like unfinished glass sculptures, reflecting the yellow-blue light of several frozen lightning flashes. Black clouds are hanging above, like a giant carpet spread all the way to the horizon. And the green light still surrounds the top of the mast, unchanged.

From up here, the ship’s frame looks like a leaf tossed into a fuzzy maze of foamy water crests. My field of vision narrows like a tunnel. It closes to a dot as colors turn grayscale. The seascape surrounding me disappears, with the flow of time slowing down even more. The green halo of light expands and swallows me. I’m floating now, weightless, in the air. Wrapped in silence, I find myself in the middle of another scenery, in a different space and time.

It’s dark. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable. The pain is gone.

Soft shadows shroud me like a silk robe. A night view is unfolding before my eyes. There is a man in front of me, watching the night lights of a city. Seconds later, he walks away from them, stepping onto a narrow path bordered by oaks and maples. At the same time, I’m him and I’m myself, observing the scene from a short distance. My senses have become distorted. Apparently, what I’m experiencing now was triggered by this flash of lightning.

Like a mirror reflecting itself… What would it show?

The White Tide

It rises
in spirals of grass
twice a day,
at the same hours.

The hoofed bells
from the mountains
shatter the night’s edge,
sending the milk flow
into circular songs.

When you look at
the rows of labeled boxes,
remember the stars
wrapped in prayers,
the dreams
wrapped in moonlight,
the cows,
and the tide.

The Ape Inside Me

Autumn is dripping
from the old tree
while I shake
the thick branches.

Every day
I slide
along the trunk
until my backpack
is heavy with apples.

When I eat them,
the ape inside me

we’re going to touch
the stars.

Its sparkling eyes
pierce the future,
planning new trips
on paths of bark,
higher and higher.