The house where I was born (07)
by Yves Bonnefoy
I remember, it was a morning, in summer,
The window was half-open, I drew near,
I could see my father at the end of the garden.
He was motionless, looking for something,
I could not tell what, or where, beyond the world,
His body was already bent over, but his gaze
Was lifted toward the unaccomplished or the impossible.
He had put aside his pick and his spade,
The air was fresh on that morning of the world,
But even freshness can be impenetrable, and cruel
The memory of the mornings of childhood.
Who was he, who had he been in the light,
I did not know, I still do not.
But I also see him on the boulevard,
Walking slowly, so much weariness
Weighing down the way he now moved,
He was going back to work, while I
Was wandering about with some of my classmates
At the beginning of an afternoon still free from time.
To this figure, seen from afar, moving on its way,
I dedicate the words that cannot say what they would.
(In the dining room
Of the Sunday afternoon, in summer,
The shutters closed against the heat,
The table cleared, he suggested
Cards, since these are the only pictures
In the childhood house to satisfy
The needs of dream, but he leaves,
And when he does, the child clumsily takes the cards,
He puts the winning ones in the other’s hand,
Then waits feverishly for the game to begin again,
And for the one who was losing to win, and so triumphantly
That he might see in this victory a sign, something
To nourish some hope the child cannot know.
After this, two paths part, and one of them
Vanishes, and almost immediately, forgetfulness
Sets in, avid, relentless.
I have crossed out
These words a hundred times, in verse, in prose,
But I cannot
Stop them from coming back.)
And that’s the End of the Poem
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