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.

[Click here to purchase your copy of Issue 08]

A Little Man

Related Posts

Image of almonds pouring from a glass bowl.

Reina María Rodríguez: Poems in Translation

REINA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ
Naturally, Flaubert’s parrot / could not be called Chucho, / his author wouldn’t stick him / with a name like that. / From which follows the importance of names. / But in the stories last night / —the reconstruction of a postcard / which we were creating...

Image of hill, river, and houses.

Joss

PATRICIA LIU
Paper is thin. In the beginning, still billows in the wind, still petal-like, still grounded in this world / of living. The incense is the only material that translates the viscera to mist. Early, the fog has not yet / lifted, and we move through the white drip as if through total darkness. Fish lost in the deep under- / water.

poetry feature image

March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec

SYLVIE DURBEC
I still don’t know how to type a tilde on a computer keyboard / when writing the name of a Spanish or Portuguese writer I love. / Nor do I know what poetry is. / I don’t know whether we need it. Or not. / And what we really need here. / Elsewhere, water, bread, milk.