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  • Night dixains
  • Marie Étienne (bio)
    Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker

                                                                DalatYou won't go into the forest becauseIt's closed it's much too large it's much too dampBlack nibbles at the edges dampness digsIts holes one doesn't enter there ClémenceWants to get close to the trees burst openUnder the weight of flying monkeys whoAre afraid of heights inhabited byBlackflies that hover on tepid watersBrightness approaches as the leaves recedeA glow reflected from the uniformDepth and thickness of the leaves I don't want

The mirror's in the bedroom and in frontOf it we find her brushing her horselikeHair and she whinnies because her motherIs a woman and her father absentGod is it you who'll be my punishment?And if a child is going to bring nightTo the mirror in the bedroom where sheLooks at herself those who know circumventThose who don't who will die of exhaustionSlowly advancing under the vast trees

The green is black Clémence I do not wantTo enter the forest on the mountainThe mirror in the bedroom too wide too [End Page 165] Wet my mother's a woman my fatherIs alone beloved the punishment GodI do not want to enter the mirrorOf the forest that's haunted by the onesWho know its depths and who know that a childWon't admit that madness is the mirrorOf those who finally love each other

She whinnies in the thickness the brightnessDespite the trees' weight and eats the edgesOf the white stones the overwhelming dampThere is a woman on the mountain whoLaments a man who's absent and a childStanding there who'll be brought by the mirrorI don't want Clémence to weep because sheNo longer is the punishment the oneBeloved my God you'll be birth and nightOf the forest on the upright mountain

The damp hollowed declivities aroundThem were white stones so that you could kneel thereEat their edges on the mountain to theRight trees that were planted despite the weightOf the forest enter into its depthThe mirror in the bedroom has withdrawnBefore Clémence who traces the obstacleOf the child to come with an ivoryComb I do not want to cry in the nightFor the beloved no longer Clémence

                                                                BariaThe mother took to the road she was dressedIn the loose trousers and the loose black shirtAnd the conical cap beneath the skyOf a foreign country was carryingFear in her packages for the nativesWho were in hiding from bombs and soldiers [End Page 166] Or were threatening you'll no longer haveHands no more husbands no children onlySuitcases to be lost during this timePrisoners subjected to the torture

Of thirst were suspended in cages inThe midst of the swamp and the bulrushesThe worst of it was treason in the bushOr in cafés in the country of deathWhere there was no thought for life the door thatKept being slammed shut in the woman's faceAll the gossip on the terraces inCities letting the enemy pass throughNo headquarters the worst was the absenceOf any mercy and the fear the loss

Their feet bled they were hunting the fatherThe soldiers searched for him with sabers drawnThe mother knelt and prayed then she went toThe peak of a mountain she was tryingNot to lose her equilibrium orHer courage a peasant turned his head asHe left to get a glimpse of the womanWho sat astride the ridge her legs danglingShe was walking barefoot deliveringTo their doorsteps the worst of parcels war

                                                                SaigonThe peasant in his rice-field mutters Kill!Because he was obliged to submit toForeign customs sometimes it was wearingTrouser s sometimes it was having to sitBy the river doing nothing sometimesIt was holding a gun the banker's wife...


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pp. 165-168
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