we filed the dead leaves by size to ease the task of the forest that was absent for  
   reasons known only to itself
The parents had left with the door
We mistook puddles for creeks
pebbles for meteorites
the wind’s hordes for wolves
A child would liquefy as soon as a snowflake touched the ground
We could hold out till Epiphany
handling our feet like toys
waiting for a redistribution of parents
 
© Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2012 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.
 
C'etait novembre en pluies acides et neiges noircies par I'usage
Nous classions les feuilles mortes par ordre de taille pour faciliter la tache de la forêt absente pour des raisons connues d'elle seule
Les parents partis avec la porte
Nous prenions les flaques d'eau pour des criques
les cailloux pour des météorites
les meutes de vent pour des loups
un enfant se liquéfiait dès qu'un flacon touchait terre
nous pouvions tenk jusqu'à 1'épiphanie
Manier nos pieds comme des jouets
en attendant une redistribution des parents
il nous arrivait de les apercevoir entre deux couches de terre
le coup de pied asséné au sillon faisait crier un caillou
Mais ce n'étaient qu'hallucinations de bûcheron à la herse rouillée



Vénus Khoury-GhataVénus Khoury-Ghata

Vénus Khoury-Ghata is a Lebanese poet and novelist who lives in France. She received the Prix Mallarmé in 1987 for Monologue du mort, the Prix Apollinaire in 1980 for Les Ombres et leurs cris, and the Grand Prix de la Société des gens de lettres for Fables pour un peuple d'argile in 1992. Her Anthologie personelle, a selection of her previously published and new poems, appeared in 1997. Her other collections include Elle dit (1999); La Compassion des Pierres (2000) and Quelle est la nuit parmi les nuits (2004). Her volumes in English, translated by Marilyn Hacker, include Here There Was Once a Country (2000); She Says (2003); and A House at the Edge of Tears (2005).

Translated from FrenchFrench by Marilyn HackerMarilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker is the author of twelve books of poems, including Names (Norton, 2009), Essays on Departure (Carcanet Press, UK, 2006), and Desesperanto (Norton, 2003). Her essay collection Unauthorized Voices was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010. Her twelve volumes of translations from the French include Rachida Madani's Tales of a Severed Head (Yale University Press, 2012); Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), which received the 2007 Robert Fagles Translation Prize and the 2009 American PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; Hédi Kaddour’s Treason (Yale University Press, 2010); and Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s Nettles (The Graywolf Press, 2008). For her own work, she is a past recipient of the Lenore Marshall Award, the Poets’ Prize, the National Book Award , two Lambda Literary Awards, the American PEN Voelcker Award for poetry in 2010, and the Argana International Poetry Prize from the Bayt As-Shir/ House of.Poetry in Morocco in 2012. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.