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Poetry

Minus One

By Samira Negrouche
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker
In this meditation on time, memory, and the usefulness of expectations, nothing is what it seems.  
Listen to Samira Negrouche read "Minus One" in the original French.
 
 

The outflow of your drifting—

up until now you’ve slid along the road

I would like
in a faraway language
to tell you what I don’t
understand

**
Nothing pulls you back from doubt any longer
from obsession
from seeding

your body is amnesia   plural   futile   limpid
a disappearance

stands in for space
stands in for an emptiness

to circle round

**
Not visible   the sense
slumbers teeters on the edge
you expect nothing of the hours
not the days returned
not daybreak
you expect

**
There had been no
days without sand
and you thought the sun
inexhaustible

you had not seen:
the lantern is cold

**
Leaving you
clamber up your confusion
on the cord
of forgetting

Leaving is
all of life still
behind you

**
What remains
to begin each morning
at the same hour
like
starting from zero

to answer time’s memory loss
and the drift of ages
your mother, trembling
the genealogy of the worst
the disaster of the gods

to finish counting the remaining hours

**
You can’t bring yourself
to let go of the sky’s edge

at nine o’clock
this morning
you hold the sailboat’s breath
head for the narrowest path

to redraw the mirage

**
You ask yourself what is
a place of your own
if you must fade yourself out
unweight yourself of promises

yesterday you wanted to know if
and now you no longer know why

you should have dived in with no expectations

 

“Moins un” © Samira Negrouche. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.

English French

The outflow of your drifting—

up until now you’ve slid along the road

I would like
in a faraway language
to tell you what I don’t
understand

**
Nothing pulls you back from doubt any longer
from obsession
from seeding

your body is amnesia   plural   futile   limpid
a disappearance

stands in for space
stands in for an emptiness

to circle round

**
Not visible   the sense
slumbers teeters on the edge
you expect nothing of the hours
not the days returned
not daybreak
you expect

**
There had been no
days without sand
and you thought the sun
inexhaustible

you had not seen:
the lantern is cold

**
Leaving you
clamber up your confusion
on the cord
of forgetting

Leaving is
all of life still
behind you

**
What remains
to begin each morning
at the same hour
like
starting from zero

to answer time’s memory loss
and the drift of ages
your mother, trembling
the genealogy of the worst
the disaster of the gods

to finish counting the remaining hours

**
You can’t bring yourself
to let go of the sky’s edge

at nine o’clock
this morning
you hold the sailboat’s breath
head for the narrowest path

to redraw the mirage

**
You ask yourself what is
a place of your own
if you must fade yourself out
unweight yourself of promises

yesterday you wanted to know if
and now you no longer know why

you should have dived in with no expectations

 

“Moins un” © Samira Negrouche. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.

Moins un

L’écoulement de ta dérive –

dès à présent tu glisses sur le chemin

j’aimerais
dans une langue lointaine
te dire ce que je ne
comprends pas

**

Plus rien ne te rattrape du doute
de l’obsession
des semences

ton corps est amnésie plurielle futile limpide
disparition

tient lieu d’espace
tient lieu de vide

à cercler

**

Non visible     le sens
sommeille vacille sur la faille
tu n’attends rien des heures
pas le retour des jours
pas le jour
tu attends

**

Il n’y avait pas eu
de jours sans sable
et tu croyais le soleil
intarissable

tu n’avais pas vu :
la lanterne est froide

**

Partir c’est
escalader son désarroi
sur la corde
de l’oubli

partir c’est
encore la vie
derrière soi
**

Ce qui reste
commencer chaque matin
à heure précise
comme
reprendre à zéro

répondre à l’oubli du temps
à la dérive des âges
à ta mère qui tremble
à la généalogie du pire
au désastre des dieux

**

Finir de compter les heures qui restent   

**

Tu ne te résignes pas
à relâcher le bord du ciel

 

à neuf heures
ce matin
tu tiens le souffle du voilier
aller vers le chemin le plus étroit

redessiner le mirage

**

Tu te demandes ce qu’est
un lieu à soi
si tu dois te délaver
t’alléger de tes promesses

hier tu voulais savoir si
et voilà que tu ne sais plus pourquoi

Il eut fallu s’y jeter sans prévisions 

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