from Gravel

José-Flore Tappy

So white
is the caper flower
opening at dawn
its flexible stem
climbing the rock cliff

I am so stubborn
I haul myself into the open air

from my shoulder
the sky hangs
like a weary bag


Shoes off
clumsily we walk
over the heavy
gravel of every day

and yet

all these wheat stalks
the bitter ripe lemon tree
the smoked spice of the open sea


A crowd in jubilation
high transparent grass
that moves to the side then rights itself
it's the multiple aerial
thirst rising
toward the necessary water

to the side
on a hollow staircase
I fill my bone spoon
with some paltry rain


Now comes the hour
when dust drifts down
alighting noiselessly
on the dark roofs

like wool
like lichen


But the cliff


never weary
of keeping space
at bay

at the foot of this wall
a wonder
it still stands

the immense breeder
of waves


Spotted with chalk
with fruit with rust
a big apron tossed
over this stone stomach

it's to its slope
its steep folds
that today my tears
severe in the clear night
one by one

translated from the French by John Taylor

Click here to read the Special Feature: John Taylor on José-Flore Tappy.