Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Marie de Quatrebarbes

Childhood lived in the toilets

Childhood lived in the toilets of a house smaller than most houses

on the tapestry of forms were reciting extracts from the dictionary I took for images

if I think of the tears that followed the breaking and uproar, how can you tell when it’s your turn to cry?

certainly one last breath signaled that she had made up her mind, while the room had no other exit

seeing her, I said to myself: her eye is golden and her mouth is a secret

we dressed her in a gown that suited her well

we did her hair, which I had cut

then the child left his cage and excused himself for forgetting something

I walk no doubt in what he forgot

I hear her voice when I look at her, by chance, on the side she’s on

sometimes I laugh without knowing it

De kindertijd leefde in de wc

De kindertijd leefde in de wc van een huis dat kleiner was dan de meeste huizen

op het behang reciteerden vormen uittreksels uit het woordenboek die ik als beelden beschouwde

als ik denk aan de tranen die volgden op de braak en de schade, hoe weet je dan wanneer het jouw beurt is om te huilen?

zeker dat een laatste zucht aangaf dat ze vastbesloten was, want een andere uitgang had de kamer niet

toen ik haar zag, zei ik bij mezelf: haar oog is van goud en haar mond een geheim

ze werd aangekleed met een jurk die haar stond

haar kapsel, dat ik had geknipt, werd opgemaakt

daarna kwam het kind uit haar kooi en verontschuldigde zich voor iets vergetens

in die vergetelheid wandel ik rond zonder twijfel

ik hoor haar stem als ik, toevallig, de kant op kijk waar zij zich bevindt

soms lach ik zonder het te beseffen

L’enfance vivait dans les toilettes d’une maison plus petite que la plupart des maisons

sur la tapisserie des formes récitaient des extraits du dictionnaire que je prenais pour des images

si je pense aux larmes qui suivirent les bris et fracas, comment savoir quand c’est son tour de pleurer?

certainement qu’un dernier souffle signala qu’elle était décidée, alors qu’aucune autre sortie ne communiquait avec la chambre

à la voir je me suis dit : son œil est d’or et sa bouche un secret

on l’habilla d’une robe qui lui allait

on coiffa ses cheveux que j’avais coupés

puis l’enfant quitta sa cage et s’excusa d’un oubli

je me promène sans doute dans cet oubli-là

j’entends sa voix quand je regarde, par hasard, du côté où elle se trouve

parfois je ris sans le savoir
Close

Childhood lived in the toilets

Childhood lived in the toilets of a house smaller than most houses

on the tapestry of forms were reciting extracts from the dictionary I took for images

if I think of the tears that followed the breaking and uproar, how can you tell when it’s your turn to cry?

certainly one last breath signaled that she had made up her mind, while the room had no other exit

seeing her, I said to myself: her eye is golden and her mouth is a secret

we dressed her in a gown that suited her well

we did her hair, which I had cut

then the child left his cage and excused himself for forgetting something

I walk no doubt in what he forgot

I hear her voice when I look at her, by chance, on the side she’s on

sometimes I laugh without knowing it

Childhood lived in the toilets

Childhood lived in the toilets of a house smaller than most houses

on the tapestry of forms were reciting extracts from the dictionary I took for images

if I think of the tears that followed the breaking and uproar, how can you tell when it’s your turn to cry?

certainly one last breath signaled that she had made up her mind, while the room had no other exit

seeing her, I said to myself: her eye is golden and her mouth is a secret

we dressed her in a gown that suited her well

we did her hair, which I had cut

then the child left his cage and excused himself for forgetting something

I walk no doubt in what he forgot

I hear her voice when I look at her, by chance, on the side she’s on

sometimes I laugh without knowing it
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