Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the house where i was born - four

"farm window view"
i remember, it was a morning, in summer,
the window was half-open, i drew near,
i could see my father at the end of the garden.
he was motionless, looking for something,
i could not tell what, or where, beyond the world,
his body was already bent over, but his gaze
was lifted toward the unaccomplished or the impossible.
he had put aside his pick and his spade,
the air was fresh on that morning of the world,
but even freshness can be impenetrable, and cruel
the memory of the mornings of childhood.
who was he, who had he been in the light,
i did not know, i still do not.

but i also see him on the boulevard,
walking slowly, so much weariness
weighing down the way he now moved,
he was going back to work, while i
was wandering about with some of my classmates
at the beginning of an afternoon still free from time.
to this figure, seen from afar, moving on its way,
i dedicate the words that cannot say what they would.

"farmer walking home"

(in the dining room
of the sunday afternoon, in summer,
the shutters closed against the heat,
the table cleared, he suggested
cards, since these are the only pictures
in the childhood house to satisfy
the needs of dream, but he leaves,
and when he does, the child clumsily takes the cards,
he puts the winning ones in the other’s hand,
then waits feverishly for the game to begin again,
and for the one who was losing to win, and so triumphantly
that he might see in this victory a sign, something
to nourish some hope the child cannot know.
after this, two paths part, and one of them
vanishes, and almost immediately, forgetfulness
sets in, avid, relentless.

"playing cards in an alcove"

i have crossed out
these words a hundred times, in verse, in prose,
but i cannot
stop them from coming back.)

i open my eyes, yes, it’s the house where i was born,
exactly as it was and nothing more.
the same small dining room whose window
gives onto a peach tree that never grows.
a man and a woman are seated
at this window, facing one another,
they are talking, for once. and the child
sees them from the end of the garden, watches them,
he knows that people can be born from such words.
behind the parents the room is dark.
the man has just come home from work. Weariness,
the halo that surrounds all he does,
the only one given his son to see,
Is already removing him from this shore.

yves bonnefoy


willow said...

Oh, there's more I missed! I am so into Yves Bonnefoy. I'm ordering more of him from my library right now...

steven said...

hi willow, there's lots online but you know as well as i do that holding paper in your hands and the smell of the book or periodical is such a huge part of the experience of reading anything. i hope you can find some of his work in your library. steven