from Air Triste

Guy Jean

Piazzolla on the bandonéon, The Pantango Trio plays Air Triste-Soledad
I dance
My partner glues to my gut her blues
of hopes misled, lifeless labors, dreams uncolored

Blues of distant lands, of all the world
long like exile, adrift,
old as death, early death—sudden and always yet to come.

Animals forget. They live, they die.

Dancing woman, let us dance an air triste,
one that leaves the furtive tracks of an animal on the dew
inside us, where a bird of prey fingerprints angels in the fresh snow.

The cordwood wall exposes to the sun his stumps.
In winter it will warm us with fire.

Similarly, will my own love on your wounds
paper a perfume of white birch?

Your love, too dense to digest,
enters the bone
a night watchman—
takes the form of what it sees.

Woman, swallow my cinders.
I want to die my eternity in your body.

My steps marry the odors of love.
I place hands on her hips,
the savage rhythms of sex resonate there, still—

I lift my gaze,
face without eyes or lips
the open void, teeth
of a frozen heart.

Tango of the funeral parlor,
My steps sink below ground.

translated from the French by Jen Lagedrost and Catherine Fagan