On the Last Day

translated by Stephanie Papa
A closeup of browned leaves on a tree branch
Photo: Claus Grünstäudl/Unsplash

Maybe it will be like the end of a year
when you find yourself alone in a deserted room
like a statue at the end of a public garden path
faced with bare autumn after the birds have taken flight

Suddenly they had all fluttered up All in one winged
thrust, following the clouds toward warmer weather
For a long time now their mad chatter has died out
Their quarrels Their endless lovers’ coos

The dusk stretches on the desolate avenue
like an immense distance inside you
The trees’ blue mesh makes the buildings pale
like old men’s foreheads scrawled with veins

The white cold is coming It was there on the first day
The white cold that sends a shudder with its black night
A sort of hospital room where the spirits of the dead
Lurk – like a premonition of eternity

Translation from the French

Xavier Bordes is a French poet and translator born in Arc-en-Argens. He’s the author of twenty collections, most recently L’Astragalizonte et autres poèmes, published by Traversées in 2016. His collection Comme un bruit de source, published by Gallimard, won the Max Jacob prize in 1999. He has translated Greek poets including Odysseus Elytis, C. P. Cavafy, and Manolis Anagnostakis.

Stephanie Papa is a poet and translator based in Paris, France. She is a PhD candidate at Paris 13 University and is the poetry co-editor for Paris Lit Up magazine. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Verve Press, Niche, Four Chambers Press, and more.