Cadaver

I gaze at my corpse where it lies and I find myself beautiful. Beautiful as a wounded legend. Beautiful as only someone else can be.


I gaze at my corpse and my corpse is a wire. I am its acrobat, its hostage. It vibrates and threatens to throw me off. I cling to it, I curse it. Then suddenly it becomes a ladder, a wrinkle, a plunge through which I don't stop calling out my farewells to all the mountains leaving without me.


There will be dancing at my funeral, that's for sure. There will be a word for every mouth, a fresh hatred for every split skull.


There will be dancing at my funeral and the grass will be heavy beneath the steps. Pitiless, the hill they'll have to climb (or descend) like a mother's belly when she has given all she had to give.


That wire I walk on without moving is my corpse. Useless to put it in a wooden box. Spread a cloth over it, invite birds to perch there. Sing it no psalms; by no means plant flowers around it. Instead, get down on your knees and ask pardon of the leaves which shaded you, the clothing which covered you, the sky which endured your human filth.


I raise my head, my splendid dead woman's head, and look for the road I'll take to return, I look for the uninhabited stone which will understand my absence. Something sleeps in me and I awaken it . Something sleeps in me and is what I was not: the best life possible I didn't know how to live.


I need nothing from you.


My corpse smiles at me, my neck almost transparent, and I am on my way toward forgetfulness.


Yes, I am beautiful, and only my dirty nails betray me.


Get on with it: now it's time to dance.


Translation of "Cadavre." Copyright Joumana Haddad. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2008 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.