Poem

By Lucie Thésée Lucie Thesee

Translated from the French by Robert Archambeau Read the translator's notes

Handsome, like those foam-topped tidal waves breaking high, in little crystal globes.
Handsome, like the breeze that lifts a little tuft of tulle. If tulle were life.
Handsome, like a frozen face, tear-tracked, when the sun hammers down.
Handsome. Like fire.
Handsome, like the bottomless sky, with that one proud penetrating star.

But handsome, too, like a sky that’s an arching ocean, and an earth prone as an ocean’s floor.
Handsome ocean-sky, and earth-sea floor.
            The big question is: where’s the man in a scene like this?

Handsome: the man asleep. And the night sky swarms, tropic and wide.
Handsome, in some ornamental, muggy midnight caught between cat’s paws. Sharp-nailed:
            they prick.
Handsome: the firefly swarms around you.
Handsome, like a soap bubble grazing a little black dress. Like a soap-bubble pricked with a pin.
Handsomeness a rainbow, a rainbow an arrow, an arrow in my chest.
Handsome, like shadows slow-rolling on a Japanese screen.
Handsome motion.
Handsome as life and poison.
Sun-blood handsome. Bleeding sun.

Translated from the French by Robert Archambeau

Source: Poetry (June 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011

Biography

Lucie Thésée was a poet and teacher from Martinique about whom very little is known. She was associated with both anti-colonial and Négritude circles, and began publishing her poetry in Aimé Césaire’s journal Tropiques in 1942.

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Lucie Thésée

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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