Evergreen Oak

By Marie-Claire Bancquart
Translated from French by Claire Eder and Marie Moulin-Salles

Standing before these thick trunks that sow our wrinkles
in windbreak

standing before these leaves that persist
in the fuzzy gray-green of a caterpillar
complementary to our bloods

I uprise a contradictory forest

A tree
where the cool flow of water would saturate the sap
with a transience that we would find habitable.

I invent a species:
the short-lived live oak
so pleasing to say, it must exist somewhere.

Chêne vert

Devant ces troncs épais qui implantent nos rides
en brise-vent

devant ces feuilles qui persistent
dans le gris-vert velu d’une chenille
complémentaire de nos sangs

j’insurge un bois contradictoire.

Un arbre
où le passage frais de l’eau imbiberait la sève
d’une fugacité habitable pour nous.

J’invente une espèce :
l’yeuse éphémère
si douce à prononcer qu’elle existe bien quelque part.


Poet’s Bio: Marie-Claire Bancquart (1932–2019) was a French poet, novelist, and literary critic. She lived in Paris and was a professor emerita of contemporary French literature at the Sorbonne. Author of over 30 collections of poetry and several novels, she was the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Prix Supervielle, the Prix Max Jacob, and the Prix Robert Ganzo. Her work is anthologized in Rituel d’emportement (2002), Toute minute est première (2019), and Terre énergumène et autres poèmes (2019). A colloquium on Bancquart’s poetry was held in Cerisy-la-Salle in 2011 and was subsequently published by éditions Peter Lang, with the title Dans le feuilletage de la terre.

Translators’ Bios: 

Claire Eder’s translations have recently appeared in InterimANMLY, Rhino Poetry, and Azonal, among other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from Ohio University. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Find her online at claireeder.com.

Marie Moulin-Salles is a French teacher and translator with 30 years’ experience. She leads individual and group French classes for children and adults. She holds a Masters degree from Caen University, France, and an advanced Spanish degree from the University of Salamanca, Spain. Her translation work includes business documents, literary texts, simultaneous interpretation in the courtroom, voiceover projects, and live French narration with musical performance. She can be reached at marieSalles1[at]gmail.com

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