the young barbarian girl

Monday, January 15, 2018



from espèce

Translated by Nathanaël

Note: “The young barbarian girl” is inscribed in the “sous-sols” (undergrounds) series of poems, which refers to miners who extracted bauxite in the department of the Var, the principal deposit in France of bauxite, which was of international importance until World War I. Saint Barbara (Sainte-Barbe, in French) is said to have lived in the third century in Heliopolis (today, Baalbek in Lebanon) under the reign of the Emperor Maximian. She is the patron saint of miners. ]


they live in the area

the young girl isn’t seen often

he doesn’t want her hanging around    because

of the company

the elevator is broken      nobody comes to repair


at first    they would come

now     it’s stuck      between floors

the doctor recommends

they can walk up     it’s good for the


it suits him fine       he doesn’t let her go down anymore

she stays locked up       reads all day      watches

through one and the other window      the 2 windows

at night      she prays

the father leaves        on a trip     it’s far

while he isn’t there        the doctor returns

every day        she scratches the wall        with her nails

she makes a hole      just above the bed

the light comes in       it’s the third window

when the father returns      she tells him      that he isn’t

the father

and destroys the name

he answers       that he isn’t afraid of the air      she has

come in       by this other window

to subdue her       he lights a fire

she manages to escape       hurtles down the stairs

without breathlessness       young she runs      fast and far

happy     with her legs that run         with her eyes

that see      with her mouth that opens

she sees a rock     the rock sees her

it opens its belly          it’s to subtract her

but a passerby saw her      and denounces her

the father delivers her        to the authorities

he doesn’t like trouble       she will be decapitated

before        she will have to be tortured

her limbs are burned       she is silent

her breasts are cut off        she doesn’t admit

the father cuts her head      lightning strikes

strangers come     claim the body

the first name is lost      the second remains un-


it is no longer really possible to call her

yet      they agree     on the formula     and


we have come to collect the body       of the young barbarian


Monday, January 15, 2018