I Had Seven Hankerchiefs

 
Translated by DENIS HIRSON

 

 
I had seven handkerchiefs
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

 

 
My mother put them away
in a drawer
between her own
and those of my father
mine were embroidered
with animals for each day
and week
and night
and the night after
one colour per day
Monday red Tuesday green Wednesday blue
Thursday black Friday yellow Saturday grey
and Sunday golden
you have your handkerchief
my mother explained to me
knotted at all four corners to cover your head
one knot in the corner
for you to remember
and then you can cry
and sometimes blow your nose
and when you leave
you can wave us goodbye

 

 
 
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); Soutine; and 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.

 

 
 
I Had Seven Hankerchiefs

Related Posts

Kentucky farmland

64-West & KY State Fair

D.S. WALDMAN
And how, / if we keep going, pushing ourselves farther / from ourselves, we’d see, eventually, the blankness / we were one day born into. / I forget what you / told me after—I think it had something to do / with loneliness.     

Huang, Kwok-Keung

Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung

CHUNG KWOK-KEUNG
I scour my memories for your place / Patterns on the tiles blur more and more / Shadows of feet sway between unextinguished cigarette butts / Discrete chewing sounds have vanished around the corner / How do I verify the month and year / Of the tea stains that remain...

Zebra finches on a branch

Anticipating, Zebra Finches

JOHN KINSELLA
Just below, a roo doe digs into the softest / soil it can find — avoiding rocks — to make / a hollow for itself and the joey heavy in its pouch; / it lifts, digs, turns drops lifts digs turns drops.