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from the January 2019 issue

Minus One

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

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

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 
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.

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