Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sweeper at His Door

Sweeper at His Door

We must have the same attitude
toward words
as that of a fly-hunter
using as the absolute weapon
all the other words
already trapped by the sticky paper
or buzzing for a little while longer
above the most commonly hidden

We must attend
to what the glue catches
and see that the flies fall
above the hand that writes
beneath the skin of the bear
happy for just a little longer
in its sold-off forest
brought right here as an offering

We must untiringly return
to the head of stone
prepared just for this
as a prelude to the whole body
hidden sprawled across the path—
tired warrior or exhausted tempter—
before the ultimate apparition
this black woman
sweeping in front of her door

We must attend
to what the jungle conserves
its temples buried up to the neck
immersed since the first day
beneath the strata of ash
of the wives burnt alive
temples returned to the groundwater
guardians of darkness—
sheltered from the hazards
of helping hands
and feats of strength—bright spots

We must without delay recognize
in the head of the temple
taken out of the water
the signal for the opening
of a new season
of manhunting
recognize the hooks of blood
that hold together the clothes
of the officiating priest
in the water
that separates head and body
we must wash away the forgotten blood
of crimes committed in our name
during our repeated absences
we must no longer forget
the blood spilled by others
—in my name—
thus speaks the head of the temple
brought out of the water
to give the signal for the opening

Sebastian Reichmann

Translation from French by James Brook

Posted over on Poems & Poetics

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