A Grave for W.B.

“Once assured of the final disaster then and only then
everything went well for him as in a dream.”
Walter Benjamin

Like a birth somewhere else
Is the absence of all trace
On this shelf above the sea
Where the distance opens
Through a cross of pathways
In the near sky
And a bird goes from here
To the invisible
Without breaking the thread
Of time’s trembling

The present in this garden
Is the possible place
Of memory’s sun
A bowl held above the waves
Where shine tears
That have been wiped away

The sun’s black writing on the sea
Dazzles the words
And the stalking angel
Leans over the waters
Tending the book’s
Bitter-sweet pages

(Paul Klee)

Driven back by the wind that blows from the garden
The Angelus Novus retreats over the hills
His love stretched out in a rainbow of pain
Above the ephemera heaped up in the dust
Until the last day when the wind falls to its knees
And Paradise once more is named among the trees
Whose leaves now redeem the many tongues of earth
And perfumes are restored to the long gaze of flowers

(Hercules Seghers)

Climbing up and down among the greyish folds
Of a remembered road-rocks breaking into air
Where a man has only his head above the star
That turns under him-the head in which he walks
His life an enclosed place-the gaps are for the sky
Earth upside down with waters above dry valleys
The exaltation of an earlier country
And the man goes among the petrified forms
Hoping to find in spite of the frontier’s closing
At the road’s edge-some forgotten flowers

A prayer for things
Traversing transparent hands
With edge intact
And a curve so perfect
That the body hollows into breath
They make ready where we are no longer
The angels of return

(Albrecht Dürer)

A winged woman who seems to see unseeing
In the moonlight, there where the tide is high
A boat that waits under the still rainbow
The falling star that designates her life
Her tired hand no longer shapes the world
Posed on her brow the sharp freshness of leaves
The far away is sheltered by a sphere
And night has dressed her writing in the foam

Heather Dohollau
Translated from the French by the author
Les portes d’en bas
Editions Folle Avoine, 1992

Beatrice Diotima Hélène
These women loved as if dead
Who while still living
Let their lovers
Embark in their absence
To touch a new shore
And through an imagined loss
Be born again
From a measure of pain
Going beyond
As children who have thrown a ball in the air
Advance holding out their hands


Translated from the French by the author

In: L’adret du jour

Editions Folle Avoine, 1989

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European Journal of Psychoanalysis