Pierre De La Prée

Translated by Duncan Bush

Three Poems


A Season in Sarajevo

This, then, is the Book of Hours
Amidst green marrows and bean-flowers,
Wisteria and thyme,
The parked car sticky from a shedding lime.

This, now, is the Book of Days,
Of coffee-rings and heat haze,
The old ladder left in a cherry tree
And the bias-wheeled hospital trolley.

And this must be the Book of Lives,
The larval dead in their celled hives
And the jay on the lawn
Burying its acorn.


Douce France

Finest of all colours
which please me is the blue
with a violet tint in it

only ever glimpsed
going past
down some ‘D’ road in the Var

or the Meurthe-et-Moselle,
but more and more
rarely and each year

in fainter and patchier traces
as the hem of a robe
still glows

from crazing frescoes:
that matchless
blue

surrounding big
white
capitals

of the ancient
advertisement flaking away
on a gable-end of the first

or last house
in some near-derelict hamlet,
ferns in the guttering,

the word DUBONNET
itself now
almost

unreadable,
and something
surges back

in thoughts of all
the boys from these villages
gone

gone for soldiers,

each one

for a rifle
and a good wool overcoat,
for a farewell drink

at the first
ratatat
of the drumskin,

and all
this

all of it

wheat under the plough.


Poem at Eleven O’clock

And now the daily,
the matutinal, the apothecary moment of
the coffee

intent ritual among
its apparatus of chrome tubes, knobs, lights, levels
tanks and taps

its hermetic tins of
roasted beans ground in Trieste
and cane from Martinique:

a veritable espresso extruded
through a Krups machine vibrant at 15 bars of pressure

leaving a sludge of leached mud in its scoop
distilling to

a tidemark
of yellow foam

and a swirl of the finest sand
as a day at the beach does in the shower.

Drink it. In a tiny cup.
Then make another.