PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue

This poem is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

Five Poems (translated by Marilyn Hacker)
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Vénus Khoury-Ghata
The cloud hanging over the valley has been there forever

Trains come from the coast cross it without stopping
Gloomy travellers would photograph the cemetery but not the children, despite the little
                                                                                          bells they wore on their ankles
Standing on the rooftops
We loosed their names in the air with holiday balloons
We invited them to share the cries of our ears of corn
And touch the mouldy robe of the Saint in her reliquary
We would beg them to carry away in their luggage the wind's hyena laughter when it
                                                                                                           rained on the winter
And rained on the cemetery and the well-preserved smiles of the dead cramped beneath
                                                                                                                their windowpane
And the mothers shook out the sheets to drive away stubborn souls and when they
                                                                                                              cried for no reason
With the same movements the mothers drove off jackals and God who had no place in
                                                                                                                     their beehives

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image