Monsters (an excerpt)

translated by Lindsay Turner

A couple in their kitchen. Either the man or the woman speaks first.

We should make sure they’ve inspected the car.

I guess they probably only rent cars they already inspected.

I don’t know. It’s still . . . I read that these people . . . their car broke down in the middle of the bush, they found them a few days later, the animals had partway eaten them.

Partway only? The rest wasn’t any good?

Well anyway, even if they cleaned off all the bones, the animals wouldn’t have swallowed everything. In time someone would’ve remembered. Maybe. Or some twenty-fourth-century historian studying early twenty-first-century tourist culture, he’ll find the article and become obsessed with them. There were some pictures in the paper, I remember.

I don’t think fate has anything so marvelously exceptional in store for us. We’ll get on the plane. There will be no terrorists, no depressive pilot, no defective motor, no thunderstorm to bring us down. The car is going to work fine. We’ll see lions, antelopes, zebras, giraffes, elephants. Maybe monkeys. Whenever there’s service we’ll post selfies with animals in the background. There, there were the monkeys, there in these super lush green trees, but we were never quick enough to catch them in motion. 

If we know everything in advance, maybe it’s not worth going. 

You’re just scared to travel. For the whole time I’ve known you—back pain, stomachaches, bronchitis, the night before a trip.

That time you had to carry both our backpacks because I couldn’t and we basically crawled from one end of the station to the other.

That time, and others.

Do you remember when we were in the Topkapi Palace, and we saw that old poem carved into the stone?

What does that have to do with anything?

I saw the reflection of your face in the window, and your acne scars, and I said to myself how right I was to be traveling with you and that I would never regret a thing.

(Embracing the other) Tomorrow morning we have to remember to put up an away message, for our emails. 

Gone but back on the 15th.

We’ll definitely be back.

Translation from the French

Editorial note: From Vie commune (2016), forthcoming from Nightboat as Common Life.

Stéphane Bouquet is the author of several collections of poems and a book of essays on poems, La Cité de paroles (2018). Bouquet is a recipient of a 2003 Prix de Rome and a 2007 Mission Stendhal Award.

Lindsay Turner is the author of Songs & Ballads (Prelude, 2018) and the translator of several books of contemporary francophone poetry and philosophy. She is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver.