Emmanuel Moses

The Lacemakers

the lacemakers are no longer in the Pelican
but the Beguines haven’t budged from behind their windows
the empress of Constantinople has forgotten them
unlike the thrushes recalling autumn all around them

the lock-keeper has gone too
with Saint Donatien in his brocade coat
of whom any relic is vainly sought
in reliquaries glistening deep in crypts

they slide continually under bridges, flush with the water
passengers in the black skiff
Our Lady shelters them beneath her cloak of piety
when snow falls on the canals and covers the swans
pressed up against the trunks of old willows

— translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker