Yes or Know?

By SYLVIE DURBEC

Translated by DENIS HIRSON

On the unbolted gate to the garden of the dead I wrote
Voi che entrate and was pulled short swift and sharply
As the strain of writing in an unknown tongue rather than
My own already foreign since come down from my father
And mother each having received it from two among the dead
Which indeed then makes twice times two of those I’ve said
Is a Herculean task while I to this day remain but a girl
Whose name forename sole certainty rhymes with the verb to be
Though some will object I hear their mockery
Chocked with a heritage of rhetoric a name is no not simply
A forename don’t be flippant if you call yourself a poet
My way if I had any say but already I’ve said it
And on the unbolted gate which swings loose today
As love does being so often Voi che vacant
My cliff-white chalky finger wrote hurriedly entrate
To friends enemies in all haste I open my heart

 

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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Yes or Know?

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