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This issue of JACKET is a co-production with SALT magazine

Lorand Gaspar

from Nuits

translated by Peter Riley

An evening in front of the fireplace
at Saint Rémy du Val

for Hédi

scattered cracking sounds
bristling gaps in the wood
every now and then the red mark
of a gunshot      splinters

of a language forgotten or, who knows,
in a state of shards, bursting
leaps, uproars and stellar
winds or the simple
rubbing together of our silences

if they too should suddenly catch fire
these flames, are they like a dance
seeking in the night its roots
felt and lived the whole length of a life

the night outside is white,
in the hearth, ardent and fragile
beating of the embers of our lives —

flakes of snow shifting
in the white of our books
perhaps in the words
said from time to time —

there where the wave delves
the vault holds its breath
trying again to be born
held firmly in the claw
of the fear closed on itself
and the quick shudder from nerve
to nerve from sun to shadow
handfuls of colours dancing
never seen, painted by an unkown music —

and all the ink of ancient China
scattered, shaken, sucked up by the mist
only the line stays,  flying —

as if the hand of a child
held space open
delineating without respite
an emergence of flights
living wellspring of birds
that adult eyes miss  -

in the long summer twilights
the young swifts make use
of currents that mount
towards unknown uplands
where no sight can follow them —

you can hear a god under the vaults
walking in the grass of the garden —

What echoes under the arches of flight
that can’t be heard, nor seen?
the wish, perhaps, to be united with it —

to understand truly what it is to be here
cloud, swift, man or pebble —

it is thus in the most simple moments
that the statement is enrooted its livingness —

may the taste of day in the throat,
held in the discovered aperture
be born again for others among the grasses

the air veined with balancings
in the rootless spaces where endless
worlds are formed and dissolve

snow duvet dancing in the night
beating in the heart’s ear
of a language so close to being here —

memory of snow on the skin
melted flakes of past images
edgeless night on the edge of memory

clouds assemble and dilate
the straw thrown into the light
bright plovers turning under the wind

I listen again to what ear throat
fingers and brain extract in a moment
from the endless flowing stream of things

a water  that transports friable words
which we pass from hand to hand
from mouth to ear, bits of mourning and clarity —

low voices and the footsteps become clear
the embers of a life roll on without brakes
red of a morning, of another sunset

in the gorges, on the broken stonefields
someone within me listens relentlessly
to the inaudible beating in things.

discords, harmonies, silences...
the fire of these great red skies at evening,
seeking, when the embers are coated with ash,
act and speech for the passer by —

“O Mother O night the mother that bore me” (1)

you will need an infinite patience to learn again
to love as not long ago  a fire lost in the distance
halting you at the fall of day
somewhere in the unknown of a desert —

you ask only to be able to touch
at times the heat of a gentle beating,
light as a bird’s slip-stream
which breaks the circle of sight

will your eyes see the clarity again?
it smiles at the present all around
as the Orient in you of the nocturnal flight
of big and lowly migrants —

the returning day gathers the fruits
of the nocturnal delvings that shine
in Schumann’s night piece,
which he asks to be played with simplicity —

in the paint brush of T’ang who departed
silently in september, instantaneous ink
of the clear upsurge of living,
in the almost blue darkness of autumn nights —

again these cathedrals of wings
in the evening air riddled with shouts
lightness of this play oh so precise
in the edgless weave of movement
desire to limn the transparent air
soldered within to a speck of ember —

little by little the sea sinks in itself
in the unique trait of a brushstroke
and I hear for a long time in the darkenss
the sound of the water, my only thought —

(1): Aeschylus: The Eumenides

Extinguish speech
extinguish thought
and go! fly! fall
neither up nor down
inhaled, crushed,
in the air faults
between the arcs of a melody
no one plays —

gleaming modesty of snowy nights
the child’s feet sinking without sound
into the thickness of the mystery of the One
who briefly ornaments our sight —

In the clearness of which hardly anything remains
but these ashen and pink clouds
thoughts painted on the night —
and you don’t know where these
dark and lively rivers meet —

meanwhile in you the garden from which
in winter such clear leaves of thought
rise in a green water, so close
- like “the rose for no reason” —
from the shadow that it questions —

sometimes, I don’t know how,
a clarity ripened in the flesh
from a long Lamentations verse
hatches out and the mind can reach for a moment

what no words, or music, or anything
can imagine, or say —

J A C K E T # 14   and   S A L T # 13   Contents page
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This issue of Jacket is a co-production with SALT magazine,
an international journal of poetry and poetics, edited by John Kinsella
PO Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge PDO, CB1 5JX United Kingdom

This material is copyright © Lorand Gaspar and Peter Riley
and Jacket magazine and SALT magazine 2001
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