The Smell Of Wet Earth
For Norton Hodges
‘Art is made to represent the hidden meaning of things.’
Norton, do you see us? We’re living right beside you,
Trees in blossom, bushes thronged with tiny birds,
Dark cellars full of precious wines,
Country roads edged with bindweed.
We breathe the same lilac air as you,
We swallow mouthfuls of light with the same heartiness.
Our memories are sheer and silent continents ,
Off their coasts our lips, strangers to all violence,
Sometimes gather, on the taciturn stones of evening,
Pure words of love,
Foam-crested rumours, accents
With the smell of wet earth.
Sometimes between our clear-seeing fingers, we take
The colours of rainbows
Which we give as gifts to the gardens of our poems,
To the pliable calligraphy of our disquietudes.
We are the old lockkeepers of eloquence,
Our hearts drunk on the blue of this world,
On waters infused with its verdant herbs,
Even now our throats are shrill-stringed instruments through which the unknown
Passes to the unknown the mysteries of ancient books.
Like magi, we have learned,
Through bloodletting and tears,
Behind our walled-up bodies
And our shadowless smiles
The sublime knowledge of how to embalm with sweet fragrances
Our wounds, our scars, the mutilated corpses of our sadnesses
And our comical wanderings.
Norton, we have both
Always worshipped the green velvet eyes
Of the young Infanta –
Paris, 22nd April 2010
Note: I spent today at the hospital. This poem was born in me with the same ease as a Bach fugue.
Translated from the French of Athanase Vantchev de Thracy by Norton Hodges