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A Tonalist Poetry Feature

Jean Daive

«A Woman with Several Lives»

Translated by Norma Cole


All the children are swaddled

as white
dried beans
sheltered from the air

for time
recycles even
of jam

Indian graves
before lake

and upon this memory

a ball rolls
up to the sacred

The golfers
the corpses.


The oath is not more

than the government
of words
around the table

a Sunday
at home.

Everything keeps
a scent of milk
and clean house.

What is the role
of the water

in a peaceful day?

It’s raining
The wind rises.

The river

than the rain
on the roof

lights up.

Water is everywhere

The window.

And what it shows
in a reduced space.

chair and table.

Bed. Floor.


Enameled oven.

The memories are there
along the river
that moves along.

The window opposite
lights up the same objects

but in inverse order.

Space forms a square.
Four angles.

Grass is airy and

the trees —

A wild
bank held up
by stones.

Trunks. Branches.

Grass and pink

The clouds are very low.

The pump has
captured History.

The radiator
bad weather.

This meadow in front of the landing
is very damp.

Jean Daive by Melanie Gribinski

Jean Daive by Melanie Gribinski

Jean Daive is one of the most distinguished contemporary French writers. His work includes poems and novels as well as translations of Paul Celan and Robert Creeley. He has edited encyclopedias, worked as radio journalist and producer with France Culture, and has edited three magazines: fragment (1970–73), fig. (1989–91), and FIN (1999–2006). His first book, Décimale blanche, was translated into German by Paul Celan, into English by Cid Corman. Other important titles are Fut bâti, Gallimard, Narration d’équilibre, and the prose series, La Condition d’infini. Among his books in English are White Decimal (tr. C. Corman), A Lesson in Music (tr. Julie Kalendek), and Under the Dome (tr. Rosmarie Waldrop).

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