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Poetry

In the Shadow of Grenada

By Samira Negrouche
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker
In this poem, the speaker leads us across a landscape of grieving deserts and volcanic desire. 
A shadowy orange canyon with twisting rock formations
Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash
Listen to Samira Negrouche read "In the Shadow of Grenada" in the original French.
 
 

Shadow
you
in a desire
for darkness

Night will close its voices to you
night will take pleasure in the dew
of its skin

volcanic
organ
its flow
of stones

***

The storm will be inside you
uncertain storm
of unexplored
senses

Heartbeat with a flame’s
silence
a thigh’s
curve

Night
will become
a punctual
reptile

Flees from us
reptile
reconstructed
refined
to a tilted
point

***

Granite
grounded         our idle
thirsting
bodies

The lamenting
rain hastens
towards greenish
regions

We remain
in these        hamlets
our limbs assembled
in the wind’s
dusk

***

I enter the beach
by the shore’s
bitter lip
The tide rises
in a celestial       shudder
on the impermeable
sand

The star
with your face
wrinkles
and ripples

No trace
as wished
of its shadow

***
Come to the ridge
of night
a roaring star

That undulation
letting go
on the path

No one takes notice
desire, like leprosy
gnaws away the steel
No shadow
of a body
or a bee

A heap of prohibitions
heavy as lava

***

Milky down, uncertain
gestures

Night’s breathing
converges
on your skin
climaxes on your doorway

Your sigh
on the dew at dawn
With your
scent the plain will
make its beasts tremble
and flee

Its body on the bed
of forgetting
fecundates plural
horizons.

***

That “you” half-asleep
in the springtime
of shipwrecks

Tears are diluted
in the doorway
of your eyes

The wind ceases
its morbid
race
and you draw your dreams out
into a last
illusion.

***

You spring out of oblivion
in Nordic sunlight

You enter a life
encircled
by winter

The breath
of your lair
is equatorial

You spring out of yourself
like a shadow
embraced by the night.

***

Your planet
mirage-tinted Grenada
watched for by the orchard

I can’t invent
a different season
for your moods

The storm wavering
gently
at a persistent zenith

Your jungle whose shadow
visions
the desert explodes

I’m at your feet
the worst
geographer.

***

I live
in my divine one’s
secret eternity

She tells me not to be
a holy land
or a mine of tenderness

She doesn’t tell
her objections are
unending echoes

My words are
futile drumming
to someone else’s beat

Not even a whim.

***

Synchronized
autumns are burning

I rinse my eyes
like an imperfect
mirror

They said they saw them
burning
brighter than daylight

They said they even saw them
dancing
in the crackling
boughs

Will my eyes see
across
autumn?

***

The silence of you
like the bite
of the ocean

I fall through the vertigo
of your mute
symphony

The shadows laugh at me
and your inconstant
gaze, curve
of indifferent
eyelashes

I’ll break my back
keeping only
my disarticulated
eyes.

***

I’ll climb
to your chasms of torture
where my eviscerated words

Prison is born of love
when love
goes native

You don’t betray
your soul
by wanting it

At the end of a chain
the walls are
damp

My body’s
useless
resistance.

***

To fear truly
the ruined act’s
unjust
resonance

The burned face
flees your presence
and your disgusted
caresses

Skin that furrows
with life’s
vast flights

I’ll live and not belong
to that morbid
bird.

***

To be
the forgotten landscape
the phantom opera
I’ll go and waltz
in the vanished
wadi

The waves
perhaps sleep through
my caustic
steps

I’ll make the earth
quake
under my feet
when the volcanic
wadi
flows up toward me
to wash out
its bed

***

I’ll leave my streets
to your secret
exploration

My dreams are only
tag-ends of amnesia
and you my
defragmented dream

Of my nights I’ve made only
a migratory
bird
who’ll leave you
to hang around
dubious mouths.

***

Forgetting is my slothfulness
since your too-
sweet laughter
can’t be
mine

I’m obliged to believe
in your nights
of escape
when my body
beneath you
was merely
landscape

My fingertips have forgotten
every suspect
image.

***

I’ll tune in my ear
to the low notes
of hours spent wanting

An argument will be made
against my harsh vocal
traumatism

I must say nothing
about my pale glimmerings

Clay put to death
under the sterile
snow

I must say nothing
about my unaesthetic
words

***

In the shadow of Grenada
my body shudders
with frostbite

My breath sediments
in the light
of the tropics

Life
in the din of time
stretches out into infinite flagellation

Life
in a heart’s din
leaves the caravan
in the fading sand.

***

In the shadow of Grenada
words explode
on an undefined
shore

The volcanic
organ
on the valley
of glistening
waves

In the shadow of Grenada
a star
signals me

I’ll burn my velvet words

 

“A l’ombre de Grenade” © Samira Negrouche. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved. 

English French

Shadow
you
in a desire
for darkness

Night will close its voices to you
night will take pleasure in the dew
of its skin

volcanic
organ
its flow
of stones

***

The storm will be inside you
uncertain storm
of unexplored
senses

Heartbeat with a flame’s
silence
a thigh’s
curve

Night
will become
a punctual
reptile

Flees from us
reptile
reconstructed
refined
to a tilted
point

***

Granite
grounded         our idle
thirsting
bodies

The lamenting
rain hastens
towards greenish
regions

We remain
in these        hamlets
our limbs assembled
in the wind’s
dusk

***

I enter the beach
by the shore’s
bitter lip
The tide rises
in a celestial       shudder
on the impermeable
sand

The star
with your face
wrinkles
and ripples

No trace
as wished
of its shadow

***
Come to the ridge
of night
a roaring star

That undulation
letting go
on the path

No one takes notice
desire, like leprosy
gnaws away the steel
No shadow
of a body
or a bee

A heap of prohibitions
heavy as lava

***

Milky down, uncertain
gestures

Night’s breathing
converges
on your skin
climaxes on your doorway

Your sigh
on the dew at dawn
With your
scent the plain will
make its beasts tremble
and flee

Its body on the bed
of forgetting
fecundates plural
horizons.

***

That “you” half-asleep
in the springtime
of shipwrecks

Tears are diluted
in the doorway
of your eyes

The wind ceases
its morbid
race
and you draw your dreams out
into a last
illusion.

***

You spring out of oblivion
in Nordic sunlight

You enter a life
encircled
by winter

The breath
of your lair
is equatorial

You spring out of yourself
like a shadow
embraced by the night.

***

Your planet
mirage-tinted Grenada
watched for by the orchard

I can’t invent
a different season
for your moods

The storm wavering
gently
at a persistent zenith

Your jungle whose shadow
visions
the desert explodes

I’m at your feet
the worst
geographer.

***

I live
in my divine one’s
secret eternity

She tells me not to be
a holy land
or a mine of tenderness

She doesn’t tell
her objections are
unending echoes

My words are
futile drumming
to someone else’s beat

Not even a whim.

***

Synchronized
autumns are burning

I rinse my eyes
like an imperfect
mirror

They said they saw them
burning
brighter than daylight

They said they even saw them
dancing
in the crackling
boughs

Will my eyes see
across
autumn?

***

The silence of you
like the bite
of the ocean

I fall through the vertigo
of your mute
symphony

The shadows laugh at me
and your inconstant
gaze, curve
of indifferent
eyelashes

I’ll break my back
keeping only
my disarticulated
eyes.

***

I’ll climb
to your chasms of torture
where my eviscerated words

Prison is born of love
when love
goes native

You don’t betray
your soul
by wanting it

At the end of a chain
the walls are
damp

My body’s
useless
resistance.

***

To fear truly
the ruined act’s
unjust
resonance

The burned face
flees your presence
and your disgusted
caresses

Skin that furrows
with life’s
vast flights

I’ll live and not belong
to that morbid
bird.

***

To be
the forgotten landscape
the phantom opera
I’ll go and waltz
in the vanished
wadi

The waves
perhaps sleep through
my caustic
steps

I’ll make the earth
quake
under my feet
when the volcanic
wadi
flows up toward me
to wash out
its bed

***

I’ll leave my streets
to your secret
exploration

My dreams are only
tag-ends of amnesia
and you my
defragmented dream

Of my nights I’ve made only
a migratory
bird
who’ll leave you
to hang around
dubious mouths.

***

Forgetting is my slothfulness
since your too-
sweet laughter
can’t be
mine

I’m obliged to believe
in your nights
of escape
when my body
beneath you
was merely
landscape

My fingertips have forgotten
every suspect
image.

***

I’ll tune in my ear
to the low notes
of hours spent wanting

An argument will be made
against my harsh vocal
traumatism

I must say nothing
about my pale glimmerings

Clay put to death
under the sterile
snow

I must say nothing
about my unaesthetic
words

***

In the shadow of Grenada
my body shudders
with frostbite

My breath sediments
in the light
of the tropics

Life
in the din of time
stretches out into infinite flagellation

Life
in a heart’s din
leaves the caravan
in the fading sand.

***

In the shadow of Grenada
words explode
on an undefined
shore

The volcanic
organ
on the valley
of glistening
waves

In the shadow of Grenada
a star
signals me

I’ll burn my velvet words

 

“A l’ombre de Grenade” © Samira Negrouche. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved. 

A l’ombre de Grenade

Ombre
toi
au désir
de l’obscur

La nuit te refermera ses voix
la nuit jouira à la rosée
de sa peau

Coulera
en pierres
l’organe
volcanique.

 

L’orage sera en toi
l’orage indéfini
des sens
inexplorés

Le battement à silence
de flamme

à courbure

de flanc

La nuit
se fera
reptile
ponctuel

Elle nous fuit
reptile
rassemblé
se résout
en un point
incliné.

 

Granit
à sol       désoeuvrés
nos corps
assoiffés

La pluie
en complainte
précipite à contrées
verdâtres

Nous restons
à lieux     dits
nos membres rassemblés
au crépuscule
du vent.

 

J’entre en plage
à la lèvre     amère
du rivage
Monte la marée
en frisson     céleste
sur le sable
imperméable

L’astre
à ton visage
se plisse
et ondule

Nulle trace
à désir
son ombre.

Venir à crête
de nuit
en astre rugissant

Cette ondulation
sur le chemin
s’abandonne

Personne n’y prend garde
l’envie comme la lèpre
ronge l’acier

Nulle pénombre
de corps
ou d’abeille

Il pèse à lave fraîche
un amas d’interdits.

 

Duvet laiteux à gestes
incertains

Les souffles de la nuit
à ta peau
convergents
jouissent à ta porte

Ton soupir
sur la rosée matinale

La plaine à odeur
de toi
fera frémir sa faune
à s’envoler

Son corps sur le lit
de l’oubli
féconde à horizons
multiples.

 

Ce toi qui sommeille
aux printemps
des naufrages

Des larmes se diluent
à l’embrasure
de ton œil

Le vent suspend
sa course
morbide

Et tu étires tes rêves
en illusion
dernière.

 

Tu jaillis de l’oubli
dans un soleil nordique

Tu entres à la vie
que l’hiver
serpente

Ton antre
est d’un souffle
équatorial

Tu jaillis de toi
comme l’ombre
épousée à la      nuit.

 

Ta planète
Grenade à couleurs de mirage
que guette le verger

Je ne puis
inventer
autre saison à tes humeurs

L’orage qui doucement
oscille
à zénith persistant

Ta jungle à visions
d’ombres
que le désert explose

Je suis à tes pieds
des géographes
le pire.

 

Je vis
à l’absolu secret
de ma divine

Elle me dit n’être pas
sainte terre
ni mine de tendresse

Elle ne dit pas
ses objections sont des échos
interminables

Mes mots sont
tambour futile
au tempo d’une autre

Pas même un caprice.

 

Se consument
les automnes synchronisés

Je lave mes yeux
comme une glace
imparfaite

Ils dirent les avoir vu
briller
plus fort que
le jour

Ils dirent même les avoir vu
danser
dans le fin crépitement
du bois

Mes yeux verront-ils
à travers
l’automne ?

 

Le silence de toi
comme une morsure
marine

Je tombe dans le vertige
de ta symphonie
muette

Les ombres se rient de moi
et ton regard
inconstant
courbe des cils
indifférents

Je me briserai le dos
à ne garder
que mes yeux
désarticulés.

 

J’irai monter
à tes gouffres de torture
où mes paroles éventrées

La prison naît d’amour
quand l’amour
indigène

Qui veut n’est pas
traître de son
âme

A bout de chaîne
les murs sont
humides

Mon corps
à résistance
futile.

 

A craindre vrai
l’injuste résonance
de l’acte
dévasté

Le visage incendié
fuit ton passage
et tes caresses
dégoûtées

La peau qui se creuse
à larges
envolées
de vie

Je vivrai de n’appartenir
à l’oiseau
morbide.

 

A être
le paysage oublié
l’opéra fantôme
j’irai valser
sur l’oued
disparu

Les flots
peut-être en sommeil
à mes pas
caustiques

Je ferai la terre
trembler
sous mes pieds
lorsque volcanique
l’oued
jaillira vers moi
laver
son lit.

 

Je laisserai mes rues
à ta secrète
exploration

Mes rêves ne sont
que bouts d’amnésie<
et tu es mon rêve
défragmenté

Je n’ai construit de mes nuits
qu’un oiseau
migrateur
qui de toi
ira traîner
dans des bouches obscures.

 

L’oubli est ma paresse
car ton rire trop
doux
ne peut être
à moi

Je ne puis que croire
à tes nuits
d’évasion
quand mon corps
sous toi
n’était qu’un relief

Mes pulpes ont oublié
toute image
suspecte.

 

Je mettrai mon oreille
à écoute grave
aux heures de l’envie

Je me ferai objecter
l’âpre traumatisme
vocal

Je ne dois rien dire
de mes pales lueurs

A mort l’argile
sous les neiges
stérile

Je ne dois rien dire
de mes mots
inesthétiques.

 

A l’ombre de Grenade
mon corps frémit
de gelure

Mon souffle sédimente
à la lueur des
tropiques

La vie
à bruit de temps
s’étire à l’infinie flagellation

La vie
à bruit de cœur
Quitte la caravane
à évanouissement de sable.

 

A l’ombre de Grenade
les mots explosent
à rivage
incertain

L’organe
volcanique
sur la vallée
à scintillements
de vagues

A l’ombre de Grenade
une étoile
me fit signe

Je brûlerai mes mots de velours.

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