The Oriole breached dawn's capital town.
The sword of his song closed the cheerless bed.
All forever came to an end.
Summer and our life, we were fused
Fields devoured the hues of your perfumed clothes
Restraint and passion declared a truce
Maubec Castle was sinking in loam
Soon the ring of its lyre would cease
The violence of plants made us reel
A crow—gloomy rower—veering from the fleet
On the quartered noon of silent flint
Beat time with tender wings for our detente
Nowhere were signs of the sickle
Our rarity ushered in a new reign
(Insomniac wind that ripples the lids of our eyes
While turning each night the consenting page
Desires each part of you I retain
Be deployed to a land of famished age and towering dripstone)
This at the start of endearing years
I recall the earth loved us a little.
PROCLAIMING ONE'S NAME
I was ten. I was set in the waves of the Sorgue like a gem.
The sun crowed the hours on the water's wise dial. Grief
and insouciance, bracing each other, had sealed the rooster-
shaped vane on the roofs of homes. But what wheel in the
wary child's heart turned harder and faster than that of the
mill, churning its white fire?
For native land, grapes can claim
The hands of the girl who culls
What grows, but who is waiting for her
Past the heartless vine's narrow path?
Rosary made by each cluster;
Topmost fruit, setting, bleeds
One final spark at dusk.
NO FOREST. . .
No forest can ever be great
Without age and the infinite.
Do not die too quickly, friends
Of picnics under the hail.
Pines, you who box our sleep,
Immortalize our footprints in the grass.
THE BASKET WEAVER'S WIFE
I loved you. I loved your face — spring fluted by high winds
and rain — and the cipher made by your mouth sealing my kiss.
Some put their faith in perfectly round illusions. For me, just
going will do. From despair I brought back so small a basket,
my love, they wove it from willow.
I was roaming the knolls of a scoured land, through secret breaths
and plants with no past. The mountain rose up — shadow-filled
flask briefly embraced by the gesture of thirst. My existence, all
traces of me, were slipping away. Your face, looking back, was
gliding ahead, a speck in search of the bee to inspire a bloom
and charm it alive. We were going to separate. You would remain
on the perfumed ridge and I would sink below, into the garden
of rift. There, under cover of rocks and in lavish wind, I would
gift my sleep to the one true night to deepen your bliss. And all
fruits would be yours to claim.
Rene Char & Pablo Picasso 1965
I have recognized death — fugal and measured — inside a rock,
and the open bed of its little assistants beneath the shade of
a fig tree. No sign of the one who cuts stone; each of earth's
mornings would open its wings at the foot of night's steps.
Without refrain, freed of mortal dread, I dig in the air my
grave and my return.
from Stone Lyre
translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson
(Tupelo Press 2010)