Two Poems

IMPOSSIBLE BUT NECESSARY TRANSLATION 1

 

                                                           the compulsion to descend
                                                                                                        the text
                                                                                                                       rung by rung
                                               glide down its shiny banister
as if one could
                                               now and then
                                                           cancel out that irreducible foreignness
                                                           lodged within


                                                                                           While we may slip
                              the noose of an idiom or two
                                                                            “La lutte des classes, ça déchire
Air France mechanics and stewards demonstrate under the windows
                                               of the National Assembly
                                                                                  against the planned layoffs of 2900 jobs
You notice
                       la gauche caviar (limo liberal, champagne socialist)

                                               consoles itself from behind the flimsy barricade
                                       that divides the social space
                                                                                    like traffic lanes in bright yellow

The body's deep disquiet
                                           across limbs
                                                                roughened and veined
                     rises like an arch
                     metaphor
                                              about the pretty month of May (le joli mois de mai)
                                              and its singing tomorrows (ses lendemains qui chantent)

                                                                                             It is tempting to say
                                             that I am translation
                                                                               opalescent décolletage
                                                                               ditch or channel
bearing the imprint
                       of other lines
                                            other mouths
                                                                   "the art of citing
                                            without quotation marks" (Walter Benjamin, Arcades, 458)

 

 

1 traduction impossible et nécessaire (179)

 

I WHO AM NOT EVEN FRENCH 2



                                                                                 don't protest
                                                                                                       it's a fact
we're always brought back to the judas
                                                       hole
                                                                   of where we 're from
                                                    crystalline form of a symptom
in back of the throat
                                  a slight contraction
                                                                     holds itself in reserve
                                                                                                       insinuates
apartness
                         a patch of ice and drizzle
                                                                                            there's that rain again
on the outskirts of town
                                          deserted at this hour of the night
the wet avenue appears
                                          mouillée de larmes

                                                                         as if it could write
                      its own elegy

We are told
                       that on the first day of school in 1942
                                                                                                         you are expelled
                                   from lycée Ben Aknoun at El-Biar (Algiers)
it is agreed
                       this will kick off a chain of specters
                                                                                 that mob your work
                                                                                                                  a path
thick with mourning
Overlooking the harbor at Stykkishólmur
                                                                     on the west coast of Iceland
The Library of Water (Roni Horn, 2007)
                                                 inscribes its weather
                                                                                   on a rubber floor
                                                 transparent and still
                                                                       the glass columns
                                                                                          smooth mirrors
at the very center of the world (Horn cit.)

 

 

2 moi qui ne suis même pas français, 171

 

 

Poet and playwright, Chris Tysh is the author of several collections of poetry and drama. Her latest publications are Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic (Les Figues, 2013); Molloy: The Flip Side (BlazeVox, 2012) and Night Scales: A Fable for Klara K (United Artists, 2010). She holds fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Kresge Foundation.

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"Impossible but necessary translation" and "I who am not even French"

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