André Breton: “Postman Cheval”

Postman Cheval

We are the birds you charm from your gazebo steeples
the ones forming a flowering branch each night
from your shoulders to the arms of your wheelbarrow
which we tear out more swiftly than the sparks at your wrist

We are the sighs of the glass statue that props itself
on its elbows when the man falls asleep
We are the brilliant holes that appear in his bed
holes through which one can see deer
in the clearing of a coral forest
and naked women at the bottom of a mine

You remembered then you got up then you got off
the train
Without looking at the locomotive preyed upon
by giant aerial roots
that complain in the jungle about all the bruised boilers
whose chimneys smoke with hyacinths and molting blue snakes

Then we went on, plants in metamorphosis
that each night make signs a man can understand
while his house collapses and he stands astonished
by his singular suitcases
sought out by his bed with the corridor and the staircase
that branches to infinity

It carries you to a door and widens into a public square
It is made of the backs of swans with a wing spread wide as banisters
It turns on itself and though trying to bite itself
but no it is content just to open up all its steps
like drawers

Drawers of bread drawers of wine drawers of soap
drawers of ice drawers of stairs
Drawers of flesh all covered with handfuls of hairs

Without turning, you take the trowel with which
you make the breasts
We smile as you hold us full around the waist
And we take the positions of your particular pleasure
motionless forever beneath our eyelids
The way a woman loves to watch her man
after they make love.

André Breton

Translated from French by Paul Weinfield, © 2014

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