Emmanuel Moses

The Terrace

He watches the terrace through the window that interpreter
he no longer has any claims on the life that bursts and flows
beyond it
down those lanes in view
among palm trees, cork-oaks, mimosas
set there beneath the mauve sky and the blinded sun
doves startled by the gardening operations
flee in a feathered flurry
then calm returns and they are soon heard cooing in the branches
this simplicity the predictable course of things which make up time
escape his grasp
He sees the balustrades and iron railings
yellow stains on a white ground
or white on yellow
he still has uncertainties and illusions
the frame reassures him
it fixes the room his gaze as well
which would otherwise wander restlessly
the table composes itself
with the brioche the cup the Chinese earthenware teapot
the sugar bowl the kelp-colored bunch of grapes
the egg-cup and its delicate shadow
on the azure-striped ground of the tablecloth
he thinks he can also see there that shell
he found one morning at the beach
haloed with gold
which he ran to bring back to the house and show it
to his sisters and the old governess
who has slept for so many years now above another sea.

— translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker