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This poem is taken from PN Review 189, Volume 36 Number 1, September - October 2009.

from the Mister Nobody Poems (translated by Marilyn Hacker) Emmanuel Moses

The Incarnations of Mister Nobody

I was with two women in the cemetery at Malines
poplars were rustling above our heads
the Flemish lion flapped against the grey sky
I was walking along the railroad tracks a pointer trotting beside me
as I whistled a ballad whose lyrics I’d forgotten
my father killed himself there one Christmas night
I would think of him each time I passed that way
but without grief or anger
I, Rosenvige, Dutch botanist,
planted fir trees in Greenland’s inhospitable soil
after a few weeks, I went back to Holland
and soon caught up in other projects, other journeys
I forgot my trees given up to the far north’s bitterness
in the interest of science
I woke in the middle of the night in a luxurious hotel room
...


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