IV.

You dream of cities not eroded
by time, of forests
that form immense paths,

you dream, and on the sea
the masts of ships
gnaw away at white stones,
the swell chafes the shore,

you dream, but dawn still takes a long time
to blow upon the ruins,
shadows crash
against the flesh of houses,
rattle the fragile frames
of windows through which you see
a bit of hope, you believe,

as slowly as a poem is constructed
inside yourself,
you gather these places one by one,
these faces, you touch love,
everything that can still be true
and beautiful, like a promise.

The Earth, scarcely visible
—have we forgotten it—
through the window of time,

can it still remind you
that you are never
above this world
that now advances
with its irreparable
breaks—you will never exist
beyond the waves that erase
human steps, and you would like,
in this moment when the Earth turns over,
to hear a diagonal wind blow,
touch the tip of your soul
the fragile skin of time, to see,
to see finally the shadows we carry open,
and like a heart, and like a face,
the world rest in the palm of dawn.

From “La fenêtre de temps.” Copyright Hélène Dorion. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Jonathan Kaplansky. All rights reserved.

IV

Tu rêves de villes que le temps
n’aura pas érodées, de forêts
qui dessinent des chemins vastes,

tu rêves, et sur la mer
les mâts des navires
rongent les pierres blanches,
la houle grignote le rivage,

tu rêves, mais l’aube tarde encore
à souffler sur les ruines,
les ombres se fracassent
contre la chair des maisons,
ébranlent la charpente fragile
des fenêtres par lesquelles tu vois
un peu d’espoir, crois-tu,

et comme lentement s’édifie un poème,
à l’intérieur de toi,
tu recueilles un à un ces lieux,
ces visages, tu touches à l’amour,
à tout ce qui peut encore être vrai
et beau, comme une promesse.

La Terre, à peine visible
– l’aurions-nous oubliée –
par le hublot des heures,

sait-elle encore te rappeler
que tu n’es jamais
au-dessus de ce monde
qui avance maintenant
avec ses cassures
irréparables, – jamais tu ne seras
au-delà des vagues qui effacent
les pas humains, la beauté simple
des choses, et tu voudrais,
en cet instant où la Terre se retourne,
entendre souffler un vent oblique,
toucher du bout de ton âme
la peau fragile du temps, voir,
voir enfin s’ouvrir les ombres que l’on porte,
et comme un coeur, et comme un visage,
le monde reposer dans la paume de l’aube.




Hélène DorionHélène Dorion

Born in Quebec in 1958, Hélène Dorion is a major literary voice in Quebec, having written over a dozen books of poetry. Her work has won many awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Prix International de poésie Wallonie-Bruxelles, the Prix Alain-Grandbois and many others. She lives north of Montreal.

photo by Johanne Dorion

Translated from FrenchFrench by Jonathan KaplanskyJonathan Kaplansky

Jonathan Kaplansky works as a literary translator of French in Montreal. He won a French Voices Award to translate a journal by Annie Ernaux, Things Seen. His translations include novels by Hélène Dorion and Hélène Rioux, a book of poetry by Serge Patrice Thibodeau, and several biographies of historical and political figures.