Monday, July 15, 2019
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Weep as if the river had entered you
say the water people
and leave your voice behind to listen better when it rains
the water people took their codes from the first willow
they speak with their mouths full of bees
a white pebble on the tongue as a sign of peace
in their oldest old age the water people
let young tendrils and buds climb over them
the road will leave without them
and their fire grow by itself
sitting on the glowing embers
the oldest of the old blow on the foreign clouds
those that land on their feet are called benevolent fog
A bag of laughter for the boy with a ladybug on his shoulder
a four-knotted calabash for the girl who uproots a stream from the earth to wash off the
            pomegranate tree’s menstrual blood
the women of the water people draw their nighttime faces with the soot of their casseroles
their handprint a four-leaf clover on the small of the back of the man sleeping belly-down on
            his own exhaustion
A bulrush slingshot for the child born at twilight
a blade of red grass on the pubescent girl’s palm
her mother will teach her to shave the female trees’ armpits and pluck the chickens while
            they’re still alive
are there other mothers beyond the horizon the mothers ask themselves each day at dusk
do they wring out the walls after the rain
does their bone-chilled fire make their pots boil ?
Antelope pelt and wet laundry dry side by side
they’ll be hung out on her mother’s line, that went through the green girl and the young
            birch tree’s bark 
a yearling kid for the man who strode over the hill without startling the pebbles 
dismembered bare-handed
its bones will feed those who eat with their toes
forehead between their knees
like this
The women of the water people feed the tiger with their bare hands
but they chase an ant from under the pillow with a stick
the clouds that weep in fine weather are their shadow turned inside-out
their black rainbow
who marries the hoopoe to the lizard
the angel to the blue jay
who collapses in their doorway when the hunter fires his gun
with a heart torn open
For want of a mirror
the women of the water people don’t know that they are women
grass uprooted left-handed
imbues them with submission
they weave walls around their hips when the men go off hunting
cut the thread with their teeth when they return
an antelope over the shoulder isn’t game
but a spouse for seasons of poverty and disillusion
Monday, July 15, 2019