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Writing from Quebec: Two Poems from The Major Verbs

Translation by Donald Winkler.

1. I brought back pebbles in a box.
For our brief span, their starlike endurance.
Wary of revolutions,
those old soul peddlers,
I kept them within lifeshot —
yet the pebbles speak only of water flowing over them on the mountain,
and spell out in silence the word forever, least human of words:
the cruellest, and the most foreign.
2. We don’t know why, we make believe. Stones on the table, Lilliputian characters
for the mind always avid for signs
and we’ll try like some poet of the South to keep them inert and unyielding
and faceless,
not in the midst of the road of life
but sovereign in nature and dead,
a close-packed existence like a black hole deprived of the minutest orifice
through which to see, to hear, to eat,
we will face them living our lives,
with only their silence for our shore. 

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