From Teint

Not black ribbon but white
                                               silences deserted
streets a bleached dust under
                                                August moon cool ermine
traced with silver thread
                                         shivers under scraped skins
say snow of leather or
                                       city drowned in feathers

you can't get far enough away
                                                  to see the glacial picturesque
without the ripped hide
                                      stench and bloodstains
seeping into utterance
                                    between the river and itself




Not a thread but a gut
                                    strung along arondissements
where the feeling is
                                   microbial love that passes
understanding in our
                                    blue gentian candida
streptococcus waterlily
                                         phage from everywhere at once

why this is Paris in the
                                      weather repeating itself
nor are we out of it
                                  nor am I out of you
from secret to secretion
                                         as water undoes us



Not a vein but the lateral
                                         piercing of boulevard
Auguste Blanqui driven
                                          underground it has become
its own double the universe
                                             yammering on while
far away the brother
                                 stars look back at us

tangling and untangling
                                         the endless alternatives
of self by side by self
                                     where revolution runs
into hidden patterns
                                  a cracked face a future



La nature ne connaît ni ne pratique la morale en action. Ce qu'elle fait, elle ne le fait pas exprès. Elle travaille à colinmaillard, détruit, crée, transforme. Le reste ne la regarde pas. Les yeux fermés, elle applique le calcul des probabilités mieux que tous les mathématiciens ne l'expliquent, les yeux très ouverts. Pas une variante ne l'esquive, pas une chance ne demeure au fond de l'urne. Elle tire tous les numéros.

Nature neither knows nor practises morality in action. What she does, she does accidentally. She plays at blind man's bluff, destroys, creates, transforms. The rest don't notice her. With eyes shut, she applies the calculation of probabilities better than all the mathematicians can explain with their eyes wide open. Not a variant escapes her, not a chance is left at the bottom of the ballot-box. She draws all the numbers.

Auguste Blanqui, L'éternité par les astres (1872) - translation by Zoë Skoulding

[Zoë Skoulding's fourth and most recent collection of poetry is The Museum of Disappearing Sounds (Seren, 2013). She is also the author of the monograph Contemporary Women's Poetry and Urban Space: Experimental Cities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and the translator of In Reality: Selected Poems by the francophone poet Jean Portante (Seren, 2013). Based on research into the Bièvre, a lost river in Paris, the poems published here are part of a sequence written during a 2014 residency at Les Récollets hosted jointly by the Institut Français and the Mairie de Paris.]

Copyright © 2014 by Zoë Skoulding, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.