Between midnight and eternity

translated from the French by Nathan H. Dize

The rain has shelved its watering can
A sweet dew rises from the earth
Everything is calm now
The bed beneath the mosquito netting awaits
Your eyelids grow heavy
You cannot wait to slip into the void
But the poem suddenly clings to you
As though your desires mean nothing
It clings to you, overpowering you
The poem slides under your skin
Hides itself in your bloodstream
You must conceive it, there and now
You must carry it in your womb
You must give it life
So your night can finally begin
Midnight splits the darkness in two
The day changes its course
But the poem clings to you



Entre minuit et l’éternité


La pluie a rangé son arrosoir
Une douce fraîcheur monte de la terre
Tout est calme à présent
Le lit t’attend sous la moustiquaire
Tes paupières s’alourdissent
Tu as hâte de sombrer dans l’oubli
Mais soudain il te tient le poème
Comme si ta volonté n’importait pas
Il te tient il est plus fort que toi
Il est sous ta peau
Il se cache dans ton sang
Tu dois l’inventer là maintenant
Tu dois t’en engrosser
Tu dois le mettre bas
Pour que ta nuit commence enfin
Minuit fend l’obscurité en deux
Le jour a changé de cap
Mais il te tient le poème


Copyright © 2024 by Kettly Mars and Nathan H. Dize. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 17, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“I was recently asked if I had any translated poems lying around, any poems that might be looking for a place to be published. I did, but I also knew that if I were to reach out to Kettly Mars, we might be able to work together again and bring an unpublished poem of hers to light. We have only met in person once before, yet I feel as though, due to translating her work, that I’ve known her for a long time through language. As we crafted this translation together, between St. Louis and Zurich, Kettly’s words gave us another chance to look beyond our computer screens and meet once more in poetry.”
—Nathan H. Dize