Writ by the Sea
Aquatic animals (pubescent water-spider) weak forms
back from anthropocentric anxiety
Bitter-salty stench of flagellation desire of
Mollusk bodies stranded in serene slumber
Like once before.
And of the foul viscosity of algae that she engendered
the young woman through damp slithering advanced
Such was her body.
Rust that watches at the flank of the cliff: warlike strategy
Thousands of undersea helmets: man grenades haunted
the night up to the straits of Magella: the onlookers/
pale nudities born of a ruined lighthouse/terrified rose-colored
coves: all of us, the incendiary swiftness of fear
seared the hideous face of our nerves: daybreak, a flashlight,
as if searching through the chalky remains, counted the
corpses: but who deigns to remember it now: who
recalls the sole sickly survivor thief/liberated yesterday from
a local prison/whose frenzied hobble powdered the new
day's path with quick lime.
MAN ALONE WITH HIMSELF (this eternal foreign
convalescent) sometimes sought shelter in his diurnal refuge: a sort of
natural grotto, almost a gallery, trimmed with tufts of
black hair intertwined with tremendous shingles of crimson glass :
"man alone with himself" everywhere at home, while
the townspeople, still oblivious to the nearness of disaster,
close by each day, the eyes each night hidden away :
they always saw him come: never to return: he returned,
however, even walking rather painfully: he suffered
from his instant union with things: this grief made
him invisible as he crossed the city.
In the glint of the oval mirror
gather the seas
and their solitary faces dulled to the depths discovered
beneath the tarnished silvering.
At the edge of every windswept valley a forbidden ladder leads to the
lunar site: insect body invalids crawl
the ground grooved with miniscule gray crevices where vegetal
leeches voluptuously cling, secrete from their
sole orifice a viscous liquid, poisonous and perfumed yet particular,
that transmutes at the moment of deep lunar eclipse
into an aphrodisiac balm: the insect body invalids
smear salve on their hearts during a nocturnal ceremony:
many perish of desication: others,
coupling quietly at the crest of a ridge are
pierced by its spines: the few survivors, afflicted with
the eternal smile of the cowardly warrior, tirelessly
continue to comb the coast line overrun by unbreakable stones
sculpted by men in the image of idols.
That morning there was no ebb tide or perhaps
two continents drifted apart): the insect body
invalids vanished: beware: at the edge of every
windswept valley a forbidden ladder leads to the lunar site.
Olivier Apert, Writ by the Sea, 1994, translated by Seth Kutzen.
Olivier Apert was born in 1959. He has published Trames du Jeu en Partitions Picturales, 1982, Le Livre du Déclin , 1989, Ecrit de la Mer, 1991, and "Femmoiselle , je t'aime", 1993 (AEncrages & Co ); L'Homme Noir, Blanc de Visage, 1994 (Le temps qu'il fait); Noli Eam Tangere, 1996 (Mihàly ).
He has also translated Karoline von Günderode and Mina Loy (La Différence).
Special thanks to Michael Dumont.