Thursday, April 29, 2010

The River Seine

(after Paul Celan)

Tonight of no stars, only clouds —

a city wrapped in crumpled paperbag.

The cigarette, a cork in your mouth

like traffic in a bottle-neck

longing to get out.

You can see the horn-sounds

as colour above the river.

This dark-houred clock, your flawless water

will only embrace the open ones —

those who've thrown a stone in their eye

and felt a ripple from the pupil out.

In hesitant hope

your cigarette smokes a thought… ‘rebel’.

But to turn this world to verb —

to hurl yourself in the river

and feel the razor-tooth skeleton bite.

No, something invisible

has summoned the wind

to warp the word into ‘sober’.

O all this hoarded time

gluing elbows to our sides.

Only semi-submerged, barnacles

have formed on the bottom of our souls —

words not worth uttering anymore.

Our reckless abandon is derelict

with insouciant desires.

To turn this world to verb, get a life…

No, not to go out like a firework,

red flower in wilted sky

to pitch yourself in the river like a stone,

disintegrate and drift,

wash your mouth out in the ocean

where sea-wave and sea-roar,

ssssshhhhh —

even in a whisper

will never cease trying to shut us up,

though we’re saying nothing really at all.

To stub out your cigarette on the vertical stone

and sink into the river unnoticed...

O in the deep upon deep

comes the caesura —

the break between worlds.

(previously published in Southerly, 2007)

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