Hordes of trees with unpronounceable names poured down on our suburb

Hordes of trees with unpronounceable names poured down on our suburb

Hordes of trees with unpronounceable names poured down on our suburb

As the seasons waned
Collided with our own trees grown grassy with meditation
Club-footed humilis draped in a coat borrowed from the wolf
Quercus with its tympanums pierced by vindictive birds
Oleaster black with the secretions of cemeteries
We would wait for them with sticks, hatchets and bark-eating dogs
Our widows pursued them howling
The moon dumped its overload of stones and sparks on them
They left without having parted the love-furrow of a single rose
Without having touched the downy neck of a single honeysuckle
Or showed their wounded knees to the healing beech tree
They retreated to the river where they emptied their pockets full of beetles
That they had intended for us
We witnessed their rout through the town’s interstices
From shafts of light kept for heat waves
And their sooty souls left traces on our laundry
The mother’s heart went out to plebian trees
To the elm that holds dreams back at hell’s gate
To the golden-eyed arbutus
Their photos on our walls replaced those of ancestors gone to graze on the mountains
Of a brother who died for having written a book with the words of the pomegranate
    tree that splashed the doorstep with blood
(Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker)

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