You let your shirt hang down

putting on airs of cuffs

at the edge of ending night

like the end of a java with double ritournelles

or the way the canaries in the cage of still-closed mornings

were singing that it mattered little

to them that their windows were open

the stones the paving stones the door-frames the armatures

the window-frames the sheets of the bed clothes in their colors

were beating the dawn along with us

better drums than your belly

better drumsticks than my fingers

and the trees and the roofs the river and its bridges

the clear distances of the city the factories without smoke

bathed as at their birth stammered

a trial hello

that only ended however

in this word round as a doubloon

placed on the edge of that day

by a considerate friend

the sun on your arms naked against my cheeks

hello I said to you

the day of quatorz’juillet

“Bastille” from The Landscapist: Selected Poems by Pierre Martory, translated by John Ashbery. English translation copyright 1961, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 by John Ashbery. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of John Ashbery. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry October 2000

Pierre Martory

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