Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker


In the village of the mothers

The days remain in a bucket of water
The wells are kept for the use of the dead who splash the
walls with their silence

Tired from wringing out the damp weather
The women lean back on the air
Lean back on trapped trees
Their aching hips share the carpenter winds’ exhaustion

The women of the mothers’ village set the houses upright
that the clumsy children upended, children they pin to their

You wouldn’t put a wall outdoors in such weather
Only the roads are free to go where they please


What can be said about the women who hunt down darkness with their dishtowels

Calling trees and children to put their noises away in their pencil-cases

And come sit at the table with their backs to the fire where the bones of a
thousand-league old willow are burning

Well-born trees are easily chilled they say, and they knot their lace handkerchiefs

The homebody willow gives off white smoke like disappeared fiancées
Translates its discontent in sparks
The willow is not expecting consolation

While the grief-resistant mandrake has no notebooks or family ties
The mandrake doesn’t mix with the trees that shade the schoolyard
Keeps its distance from the oak’s caustic foliage and that of the lime tree, self-important in its transparency

There are no happy woodcutters


Photograph © Aaron Escobar, Exposed Mango Tree Roots, 2007

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