While You Pass By

Samira Negrouche


Lives pass by before you
while you pass by
a magnetic network
wires outside the network
and refuse
solar gods and dark ones
the inhabited the unconscious
the not yet criminal
and the eternally inoffensive
who think themselves powerless
and lower their eyes
before a world that stains
and howls

dreams pass before you
that don’t know
where illusion begins
where the sky ends
while you pass by.


I lived on a wide path
shadows bent over it
their flanks supple and docile
at the hour when the sun set

I lived on a Roman road
that keeps the sweat of reckless
dancers feverish
their torsos clad with nightfall

I lived in the flexible moment
of a time that will not settle
on a reprieved city
where splendor is the norm

I lived by not knowing
where tomorrow ends


I walk in your shadow
but I don’t think about you all the time
I’m not always walking
on the cobblestones of rebirth
in consecrated temples
or millennial orchards

skies drench my face
my love
and it’s not from thinking of you
nor the little soul holding out a hand
to the one who doesn’t brush against it
sensibly waiting
for the wheels that would gladly
crush it out of this disaster

errant thoughts rain on me
that seem to belong to others
whose shadows walk over me


If you knew the time that goes through me
While I go toward you.


You don’t know who’s going past.

translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker