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This poem is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

To Invent the Word?

translated from the French (Algeria) by Marilyn Hacker
Samira Negrouche
‘The second you appeared to me, my heart had all the sky to light it up. It was noon in my poem. I knew that fear was sleeping.’
                                                René Char, the pulverized poem

I don’t know which of us you or me got there first seizing the other by her shirttails to see you coming or know you wait for me is the same mirrored reflection.

You always hum that innocent tune when your cheeks turn red in the evening for hands that sweat when they meet and I let the tide bring its own refrain.

Didn’t I meet you after climbing a staircase no elevator and a heart that needed exercise what workout could I have done not to fall on my knees at your threshold?

In the verb poem there’s the idea of fleeing from you and losing myself at daybreak at dusk and of making speeches to you on the solitude of words and the liberty of the flesh there is in the same verb poem the idea of lowering the sails and loving you without restraint.

I like to imagine a train arriving the length of the station platform that at last comes gently to a halt in the scratching of a language spoken by two beings who wait for each other in the same faraway and who meet by chance on the eve of a fresh start after having carefully straddled an infinity of conditionals.

I can’t keep myself from thinking of those women who before me and after me attempt love with the forbidden as their one mirage I can no longer distinguish the reflections I so often give birth to my interdiction and let myself breathe in the wind of park gardens open air hotels bedrooms for the destitute of heart and the outcry of unregistered loving.

Before you I wanted to die with you I still want to die but I’d prefer to wait a while first.

Women who love have the odour of a fireplace that makes the day into a nest and of a garden that can find its earth in a collection of plots carved out of the cracks in the sidewalk in that love are my eyes that withdraw in the tenderness of sharing.

The body I love doesn’t love my going to bed late my getting up early the eyes I love are almost patient when daylight is tardy they watch me go beyond my lunar compass and awake at the phantom border of our superimposed dreams.

Necessary now to invent everything to acknowledge the instant of loving I will have to say to you unprefaced what can have no proof except the word remember every instant stutterings promises I made you and vice versa necessary to be marked by all the ground we skimmed against with fear as our fellow traveller fear of losing each other of losing ourselves there is no antidote to doubt except our steps that cross each other reinventing the prism of colours there is no love but doubt that grows and rests in the certitudes of the past. 

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