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Poetry

How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills

By Vénus Khoury-Ghata
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker
if a storm broke she collapsed in soot
How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills
leaving us a body without contours
two packets of cold for the armpits
white grass for the pubis
 
Gone off with her friend the fire
she spoke to us in flares and sparks from behind the hill’s shoulder
her voice become brambles loose stones broom bush
if a storm broke she collapsed in soot
 
whole nights spent down on the floor sniffing a sketch of her
looking out for her rages in lightning
lips split by sun and frost
 
we called the mother till the closing of the last field 
 
© Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2012 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved. 
English French
How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills
leaving us a body without contours
two packets of cold for the armpits
white grass for the pubis
 
Gone off with her friend the fire
she spoke to us in flares and sparks from behind the hill’s shoulder
her voice become brambles loose stones broom bush
if a storm broke she collapsed in soot
 
whole nights spent down on the floor sniffing a sketch of her
looking out for her rages in lightning
lips split by sun and frost
 
we called the mother till the closing of the last field 
 
© Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2012 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved. 

Comment retrouver la mère lorsque son visage disparaissait derrière les collines

Comment retrouver la mère lorsque son visage disparaissait derrière les collines
Nous laissant un corps sans contours
Deux paquets de froid pour les aisselles
De l’herbe blanche pour le pubis

 
Partie avec son ami le feu

elle nous parlait en flambées en etincelles par delà 1'épaule de la colline

sa voix devenue ronces pierrailles genêts
qu'un orage survint et elle s'écroulait en suie

 
des nuits entières à humer son esquisse à même le parquet
à guetter ses colères dans les éclairs
lèvres fendues par soleil et gel
 
on appelait la mère jusqu'à la clôture du dernier champ

 

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