Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Laure Cambau

Feb 11, 2022 | Poetry | 1 comment

Translated from the French by Patrick Williamson.

I could have fallen in love with a chair
but you sat down
under the femur clock
you took my eyes for doors

my ghosts melted with the rain
a few slow stones were left
that danced and turned
you didn’t have eternity on every floor

I could have fallen in love with a chair
but you sat down
under the femur clock
I sorted the rains by colour
age range and temperature

I left your eyes and all hope with the suitcases
at the company counter
and returned to the belly of the devil
following the green moon of great occasions,
you asked me for the colourless path
the way to contagion

so through an ancient keyhole
I showed you the real life after
the other side rubble and shards of the river
loaded with souls and angel sap from all countries
united to make words and heads fall
toss a coin

I could have fallen in love with a chair
but you sat down

Our ancient embraces sleep
in an abyssal chamber
you open your mouth and the door
the colours disappear
love melts
like chocolate on the beach
our ancient embraces sleep
in an abyssal chamber
you open me you fade me
you yawn you make me pale
you search and I lose myself
you light and destroy the flame
pierce the tomb and the stucco
unfold the shroud
our ancient embraces sleep
like a baby in the pink room
you open your mouth
love dies
like a fish wrapped on my page.



I use the key to write to you
the door will wait
I have nothing left no teeth or beak
I have nothing but wind in my alveoli
air under the panes of my brain
my windows are not made
so I escape your absence
my windows are opaque
I have nothing but wind in my mandibles
and lead under my feet
to stop what happens next
I have nothing but air under skin of oil
that nothing protrudes from
not even wild grass
nothing moves anymore

I unplug my dreams
and deflect my tongue
to a white void where I stagnate
cruising on the lack
I have nothing but wind in my ear
I have nothing but air deep down in the cuts
I use the key to write to you
the door will wait.



You don’t read so I write
the news is bad
I make up good news
you’re not there
so I stay
whole or in little pieces
in the depths of a sleepless night
I graze on black
at the window
and I repaint my cage
the colour of the end of the night
and the girl with it
and put the shadow in the cup
with the red weapons
and hands warm with melancholy

my vortex is aching
you don’t read so I write
you lose everything:
the hair the trains the bodies,
tantric poppycock
with a wild perfume
you leave your voice bare under the cassock
in the locker of the last station
and your eyes at low tide
pretty pebbles polished by the sea
you leave your eyes at low tide
then stagger off
to look for others at the eye fair,
at the municipal head-clearing
you lose everything:
your skin on the hill
-a quiet and delicate moult
nourished by a woman’s milk
pink and blue with baroque folds and creases
my vortex is aching
and I write clouds
so that one day perhaps it will finally
rain on you.



Our Sea in Braille
who art in heaven
give us moons
trees and hills
give us sweet rains
pink feet hands
and mouths to caress
and kiss your icons
give us hearts of silica
and aluminum breasts
to recharge your stars
fallen from the nest
give us our dead
and the little golden key
to rekindle them.


Laure Cambeau lives in Paris. Poet and pianist, she is also the author of children’s stories and song lyrics.
She has published nine collections of poetry and received the SGDL’s Poncetton Prize for Lettres au voyou céleste (Amandier, 2010). Her latest works include La fille peinte en bleu (Caractères/Ecrits des Forges, Quebec), and Ma peau ne protège que vous (Le Castor Astral). Le Manteau rapiécé, un voyage au fil du souffle (Unicité) received the 2018 Vénus Khoury-Ghata prize. Her latest collection, Grand Motel du Biotope was a finalist for the Apollinaire and Mallarmé prizes. She is a member of the Compagnia delle Poete.
As a pianist, she regularly performs chamber music, with lyric artists and writers.

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (SE, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Max Alhau (France), Tahar Bekri (Tunisia), Gilles Cyr (Quebec), as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. Longstanding collaborator with artists’ book publisher Transignum, member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

1 Comment

  1. Mariane Bitran

    Thank you for this translation. It gives a new character to Laure’s poems.


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