They lived in a time when words were poor.
Meaning stopped pulsing in the rhythms of defeat.
The smoke rose full, enveloping the flame.
They feared joy would never astonish them again.
They slept through all of the world’s distress.
Memories seeped into their nightly dreams
Like boats in the mist that turn up their lamps
A bit more brightly, before heading upstream.
They awoke, but the grass was already black.
Let shadows be their bread now, let wind be their water.
Let silence be the ring of oblivion they acquire,
And an armful of night, all their earthly fire.
Translated from French by Paul Weinfield, © 2014