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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

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