by Edmond Jabès (b. Cairo, 1912–d. Paris, 1991)
Translated by Keith Waldrop
No-man's-land, obsessed page
A dwelling-place is a long insomnia
in the hooded trails of a mine.
My days are days of roots,
love's yoke extolled.
The sky is always to cross and
foreground to be bed with new nights.
I form, in my weeds,
a wedge in the wall's opaque brightness.
The earth is steeped in
empty dreams of travel.
Land beyond night, which the sun wrenches from
meditation, from the thorns of doubt.
Flowers parade their artful candor. The stems
emulate grand adventures in space.
Honey flows between stones
which this cement will join.
Around the branches, the world mimes its hunger.
So many cries for a tree, fragrant god to
plant, to bend by a magic round. . .
My secrets are orchards.
There is no trick to the mystery.
* with thanks to Ruairi