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Words Without Borders “stands as a monument to international collaboration and a shared belief in artistic possibility.”
— 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Citation
from the January 2019 issue

In the Shadow of Grenada

In this poem, the speaker leads us across a landscape of grieving deserts and volcanic desire. 


Listen to Samira Negrouche read "In the Shadow of Grenada" in the original French.
 

Shadow
you 
in a desire
for darkness

Night will close its voices to you
night will take pleasure in the dew
                                           of its skin

volcanic
organ
its flow
of stones 


***

The storm will be inside you
uncertain storm 
of unexplored
senses

Heartbeat with a flame’s
                                       silence
a thigh’s 
                                       curve

Night
will become 
a punctual 
reptile

Flees from us
reptile 
reconstructed
refined
                      to a tilted 
                      point 
***
Granite 
grounded         our idle
thirsting 
bodies

The lamenting
rain hastens
towards greenish 
regions

We remain 
in these        hamlets
our limbs assembled
in the wind’s
dusk 


***

I enter the beach
by the shore’s 
bitter lip
The tide rises
in a celestial       shudder 
on the impermeable
sand

The star
with your face 
wrinkles
and ripples

No trace 
as wished
of its shadow

***
Come to the ridge
of night 
a roaring star

That undulation
letting go
on the path

No one takes notice
desire, like leprosy 
gnaws away the steel 
No shadow
of a body
or a bee

A heap of prohibitions 
heavy as lava 

 

***

Milky down, uncertain
gestures 

Night’s breathing
converges
on your skin
climaxes on your doorway

Your sigh
on the dew at dawn
With your
scent the plain will
make its beasts tremble 
and flee

Its body on the bed
of forgetting 
fecundates plural
horizons.

 

***

That “you” half-asleep
in the springtime
of shipwrecks

Tears are diluted
in the doorway
of your eyes

The wind ceases
its morbid
race
and you draw your dreams out
into a last
illusion.

 

***

You spring out of oblivion
in Nordic sunlight 

You enter a life
encircled  
by winter 

The breath 
of your lair 
is equatorial 

You spring out of yourself
like a shadow 
embraced by the night. 

 

***

Your planet
mirage-tinted Grenada 
watched for by the orchard

I can’t invent
a different season
for your moods

The storm wavering
gently
at a persistent zenith

Your jungle whose shadow
visions 
the desert explodes

I’m at your feet
the worst
geographer. 

 

***

I live
in my divine one’s
secret eternity

She tells me not to be
a holy land
or a mine of tenderness

She doesn’t tell
her objections are
unending echoes

My words are 
futile drumming
to someone else’s beat

Not even a whim.

 

***

Synchronized
autumns are burning

I rinse my eyes 
like an imperfect
mirror

They said they saw them
burning
brighter than daylight 

They said they even saw them
dancing
in the crackling
boughs 

Will my eyes see
across 
autumn? 


***

The silence of you
like the bite 
of the ocean

I fall through the vertigo
of your mute 
symphony

The shadows laugh at me
and your inconstant 
gaze, curve
of indifferent
eyelashes 

I’ll break my back
keeping only 
my disarticulated
eyes.

 

***

I’ll climb
to your chasms of torture
where my eviscerated words

Prison is born of love
when love
goes native

You don’t betray
your soul
by wanting it

At the end of a chain
the walls are 
damp

My body’s
useless
resistance. 

 

***

To fear truly 
the ruined act’s
unjust
resonance 

The burned face 
flees your presence
and your disgusted
caresses

Skin that furrows
with life’s
vast flights

I’ll live and not belong
to that morbid
bird. 

 

***

 

To be
the forgotten landscape
the phantom opera
I’ll go and waltz
in the vanished
wadi

The waves
perhaps sleep through
my caustic
steps

I’ll make the earth
quake
under my feet 
when the volcanic
wadi
flows up toward me
to wash out
its bed

 

***

I’ll leave my streets
to your secret 
exploration

My dreams are only 
tag-ends of amnesia 
and you my
defragmented dream

Of my nights I’ve made only
a migratory
bird
who’ll leave you
to hang around
dubious mouths.  

 

***

Forgetting is my slothfulness
since your too-
sweet laughter
can’t be
mine

I’m obliged to believe
in your nights 
of escape
when my body
beneath you
was merely
landscape

My fingertips have forgotten
every suspect
image.

 

***

I’ll tune in my ear
to the low notes
of hours spent wanting

An argument will be made 
against my harsh vocal
traumatism

I must say nothing
about my pale glimmerings

Clay put to death
under the sterile 
snow

I must say nothing
about my unaesthetic
words 

 

***

In the shadow of Grenada
my body shudders
with frostbite 

My breath sediments
in the light 
of the tropics 

Life 
in the din of time
stretches out into infinite flagellation

Life
in a heart’s din 
leaves the caravan 
in the fading sand.

 

***

In the shadow of Grenada
words explode 
on an undefined
shore

The volcanic
organ 
on the valley
of glistening 
waves 

In the shadow of Grenada 
a star
signals me

I’ll burn my velvet words

“A l’ombre de Grenade” © Samira Negrouche. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved. 

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