Translated from the French by Ira Sadoff
By a paper-like coldness, the schoolchildren of emptiness blush through the windows. A large curtain on the façade fills itself with little monsters.
The cabinet-maker is exhibited down to the knees. Enclosed in his prototype until summer, he makes his sleeper son with eyes adorned with gold fall very softly. If one puts the detestable army of dead keels on his shoulders, the fish go away to hook their wet beards in the ceiling of the sea.
The slowness of his gestures gives him all the illusions. Stripped of his blue-glass clothing and his unbreakable moustaches, a half-scruple prevents him from sleeping under the snow that is beginning to fall.
Having seen his love from below with the ideal of perspective, he leaves tomorrow.
Paul Éluard “revealed,” with Max Ernst, Les Malheurs des immortels, from which this poem is taken.
Ira Sadoff’s first book, Settling Down, will be issued by Houghton Mifflin this spring. (1975)
Ira Sadoff is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently True Faith (BOA Editions, 2012); a novel; a book of critical essays; and The Ira Sadoff Reader (Middlebury College Press, 1992), an anthology of stories, poems, and essays. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The New Yorker, AGNI, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he lives in Ulster County, New York. (updated 10/2018)
Sadoff’s AGNI poem “Self-Portrait with Critic” was chosen for The Best American Poetry 2002.