Soft Link 3 (by Nicole Brossard, translated by Robert Majzels and Erin Moure)
Notebook of Roses and Civilization, trans. Robert Majzels and Erin Moure (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2007). This poem is reproduced on the Griffin Prize Web Site (from a volume on the 2008 Canadian Shortlist).
1It's names of places, cities, climates that haunt. Characters. Clear mornings, a fine rain that falls all day, rare images from elsewhere and America, two natural disasters that make us close ranks amid corpses, it's quiet or violet acts, mortars, ice cubes in glasses at cocktail hour, noise of dishes or a slight stutter that momentarily torments, a slap, kiss, it's names of cities like Venice or Reading, Tongue and Pueblo, names of characters Fabrice Laure or Emma. Words honed over years and novels, words we spoke with halting breath laughing spitting sucking an olive, verbs we add to the pleasure of lips, to success, to sure death. It's words like cheek or knee and still others further than we can see that leave us teetering on the edge of the abyss, to stretch like cats in morning it's words that keep us up till dawn or make us flag down a cab on a weekday night when the city's asleep before midnight and solitude is caught like an abscess in the jaw. It's words spoken from memory, in envy or pride often words uttered with love while layhing our hands behind the head or pouring a glass of port. It's words whose etymology must be sought, then projected on a wall of sound so the cries of pain and sighs of pleasure that wander in dreams and documents lay siege to the mysterious darkness of the heart. It's words like bay, hill, wadi, via, rue, strada, dispersed through the dictionary between flamboyancies and neons, burial mounds and forests. It's words of the arms of the sea, ensembles of sense that claw or soft at our chests, cold shivers rivulets and fear abrupt in the back while we try to fissure the smooth time of the future with trenchant quotations. It's words that swallow fire and life, who knows now if they're Latin French Italian Sanskrit Mandarin Galician Arab or English, if they conceal a number an animal or old anguishes impatient to shoot up before our very eyes like cloned shadows replete with light and great myths.
RPO poem Editors: