If

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

We had a ribbon of words to say
like the machines with their coffers of signs
prêt-à-porter.

We would have finished going over them.

Returned to the first ones
we would pronounce them with our renewed body.

Dead horses climb back up the trails.

Silence.

They would carry us finally toward
            our solemn communion with objects.



Featured Art: Eldridge, by John Schriner

Si

Nous aurions un ruban de mots à dire
comme les machines avec leurs cassettes de signes
préparés pour l’usure.

Nous aurions fini de les parcourir.

Revenus aux premiers de tous
nous les prononcerions de notre corps renouvelé.

Des chevaux morts remonteraient les routes.

Silence.

Ils nous emmèneraient enfin vers notre solennelle privauté avec les choses.


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.

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@gmail.com.

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