[Un Citadin / A City Dweller]

Translated by Andrew Shields
The street I walk along I often see
As if I'd long since left the moving surface
Of the world for the endless other side that disperses
Us all some day without return but free

Of care. I apply myself so well to this fragile proceeding
That very quickly my gaze ceases to be
Part of the cloudy clump of hope and memory
I'll have given my name to. But for this to succeed,

A feeling of absolute happiness has to make
Itself felt, as if from outside me, so much
That at that moment the very street has a hunch
That it, the entire city, and its uncertain space

Have become one with the mobile but faithful pattern
Of phrases written by our steps when we move about.
I no longer know who's walking and marking out
The ground, bit by bit, to the corner. My gaze then patterns

Itself on tomorrow's unknown eyes, which will shine
When from the roofs, posthumous and vague, mine glow,
And my invisible trace on the asphalt below   
Might guide the élan of hardier passersby.

Will they know what I sometimes suspect: what appears
To be the distracted gaze with which we see
The world is the world itself?—It sees and hears
Itself through the thin transparency of our screens.

More Poems by Jacques Réda