A Little Man

By SYLVIE DURBEC

Translated by DENIS HIRSON

A little man walks
Through the golden dust
It is a summer’s morning
A morning fresh and mild
As other mornings, other sorrows
He walks across roads
Where no one else walks
With a tiny wooden coffin
Tucked under his arm

Is it empty?
Is it full?

Twigs, pebbles, child
What does the little man carry
Tucked under his right arm
As he walks out so bravely
So valiantly
Into the fresh and early morning?

Tiny coffin in the sleeping forest
Where my fine child has come to rest
Sings the father hums the man
As he walks from the town
Towards fields of wheat and corn
Which this year will not be gathered in

Sylvie Durbec’s recent publications include Marseille: éclats et quartiers (Marseille, fragments and quarters), which won the prestigious Jean Follain Prize of the City of Saint-Lô; Sanpatri (Nohomeland)Soutineand L’idiot(e) devant la peinture (Idiot/I look at paintings)

Denis Hirson was brought up in South Africa and lives just outside Paris, France; he teaches at the École Polytechnique. The latest of his seven books is the novel The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street. He is also the editor of the 2014 anthology In the Heat of Shadows, South African poetry 1996–2013.

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A Little Man

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