From Beyond Elsewhere by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, forthcoming from White Pine Press in March 2016, translated from the French by Hélène Cardona
So much lost sky.
You dream of being the exception, but are just the rule: the first love empties your bag of marbles to fill it with stars, but this brutal flash carries within the lightning that ultimately blows them all out, one by one.
Love tucks you in bed one last time and gives you the big night kiss.
Why doesn’t passion escape the tidal movement, the law of opposites, the back and forth between shadow and light, the imperturbable mechanical decline of all things here below?
I remain alone, without the soothing of a word, without the calming of a response. Words temporarily lose their magic, their magnificence. They are wingless birds, short-winded arrows that fall before reaching their target. I wander without her, in denial of her vain absence, like a ghost in the misleading immensity of temples in ruin.
I drift in silence, days and moons, on the sea of servitude that floods my every cell in mourning, before collapsing by the grace of time on the other shore of dead loves, drunk with the rolling of my shipwrecked pain. Rising, my back to the sea, facing the sun, I hear the wands of the future thrashing the drum of my heart, as if time, until now suspended in the relic of the past, again knocked at my door, ordering me to finally open it and resume our aborted dance.
I must spring forth from this unflappable throbbing – now. Regain the time lost looking for what no longer is, for what is not. Get up, rebuild myself in the void and urgency of a liberating despair: in the surrender of my illusions about the other, about me, about eternity. I now know human passion is exclusive, symbiotic, psychotropic, but that the key is the spell eluding it, the time that tears it to pieces.
I accept what is: what I believe to be. This white despair, paradoxical fruit of a vital impulse, delivers me from the prison of lack. Lack is there, but no longer here; at least I was burning to convince myself, with the impatience of those who still doubt.
Later, the rage to embrace the multitude spreads in the gold of my cells when I hear surging in my throat the absurd helpless cry tearing me from the long sleep of the senses:
“Since everything is transitory, I will love them all. And none.”
Thus desire rekindles its torch for me, for my whole famished being.
Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac is the author of the acclaimed Beyond Elsewhere (Éditions du Cygne, 2013). He has been published in numerous anthologies of short stories and poetry, including Petite anthologie de la jeune poésie française (Éditions Géhess, 2009), Le livre de la prière (Éditions de l’Inférieur, 2013), and literary and philosophical journals, notably Les Citadelles, Poésie Directe, Littérales, Polyglotte, Recours au Poème, Testament, 3è Millénaire and L’Opinion indépendante. He contributed to the book Irak, la faute, with Alain Michel and Fabien Voyer (Éditions du Cerf, 2000). He graduated from Sciences Po and holds a Master’s degree (Fondements des Droits de l’Homme). He also studied philosophy and Eastern poetry.
Hélène Cardona is an award-winning poet and actor, author of Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry), Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), her translation of Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of Dorianne Laux, and The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press). She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College and LMU, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She co-edits Dublin Poetry Review and Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Warwick Review, Plume, Irish Literary Times, Los Angeles Review & more.