Monday, 2 April 2012

ana luísa amaral

The Past

Ah… old copybook
where I wrote out my French themes,
Mes Vacances: I adored holidays
je suis allée à la plage (with two e’s,
the verb être asking to agree), j’ai beaucoup
nagé and then I’d end with the sunset
over the sea, looking up ‘gulls’ in the dictionary

Corrections in red and the Passé Simple,
writing nous fûmes vous fûtes ils fûrent a hundred times
during sunny afternoons
and Madame Denise who said Toi ma petite
like a drill sergeant her face turning angry
and red (I have too many globules! faites attention)
and that look which contradicted it all
with remplit tenderness

And the rules memorized and the verb
endings ais, ais, ait
during extra help and the falling afternoon light
pooling beneath the desks,
our nun lost in her psalms
me dreaming over my open book

once upon a time there was a little boy
and the algebraic equations
with x as unknown

Ah… beautiful afternoons when it was good
to be good, and neither the little saint nor candy,
but the sweet word fondling me from within,
our white smocks spotted with bright hued gouache

the blue belt I always wore draped
like a swashbuckler

Creaking wooden stairs
rhyming to steps
twenty years on,
falling into formation to the roll,
‘present” seemed so logical and certain then,
like going to prayers in the chapel and reading the Epistles
(Saint Paul to the Corinthians:
In that time…),
You have such a beautiful voice and read so well,
and then they made me tighten my belt,
primped in my pew
to the right of the priest

The pull of the confession,
voices murmuring through the fine wooden web
dissembling defects,
smell of the waxed floor and the wax of the candles
and when I stopped believing in sin,
knew words didn’t do any good,
that the wooden web
was useless

Ah… nights of insomnia twenty years on
once upon a time there was a little boy
and he went on a journey
there was a little girl, une petite fille

and the simple past, how its seemed simple and past

Au clair de la lune
mon ami Pierrot
Prête-moi ta plume
pour écrire un mot

To write just a word
just one moonlit word
to request concordance like a caress

Elles sont parties,
les mouettes

trans martin earl


Roxana said...

very lovely, and very clever, i can't resist poems which play upon grammar. besides, the ending stanza
To write just a word
just one moonlit word
to request concordance like a caress

is simply perfect!

swiss said...

i had a feeling you might like this. how could i resist a poem that finished les mouettes?