The landscape’s wheel has lost the power of speech
Offering its empty eye to my empty eyes
And yet a bit higher up
The line of the spheres continues its dance
An arabesque grasps us
“Will so much music have been for nothing?”
Asks the mathematical question
Our question on this mountain ridge
From where our loss can be observed
Dusk is coming I have almost
I have almost having finished my day but not
Alas the work incumbent on my day
The landscape turns the color of cowardly roses
Around a heart
Not heart enough
Like every heart


from The Unassailable


Space is full of mental rooms where we can go
Like a hunter unleashing his dogs, I freed my spirit into them
High blaze of hieratic grasses
Simple or resounding victory
Although it wasn’t an especially simple day
All day long the sun suffused some leaves
Nearby harvesters bent in the vineyards
Mindful of patient provisions in the grapes’ blood
To each one his wine-press and his wine
As for me, I unleashed my dogs
First of all death deciphered itself in the gold
Its obols waited at the foot of every tree
Weightless coins of the glad munificence
Which replaces summer
Glory piercing loss through to its afterlife
To each his crystal and to each his blood
To each his drunkenness
And his journey just a bit beyond himself
I too was heavy
I too, clumsy in the evening’s affluence
My wealth was too great for me
A beautiful sunset thickening my lips
Like a hunter heading home
I whistled for my spirit


Gabrielle Althen was born and raised in Algeria; she now lives in Paris and in the Vaucluse. She has published ten collections of poetry, including Coeur fondateur (2006) and Sans preuves (2000) as well as a collection of stories, Le Solo et la Cacophonie: contes de métaphysique domestiques (2000), and a novel, Hôtel du vide (2002).

Marilyn Hacker is the author of eleven books of poems, including Essays on Departure (Carcanet, 2006) and eight collections of poetry translations, most recently Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s Nettles (Graywolf, 2008). She received the first Robert Fagles Translation Prize for Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen, to be published by Farrar Strauss and Giroux this fall.

At Guernica, we’ve spent the last 15 years producing uncompromising journalism. 

More than 80% of our finances come from readers like you. And we’re constantly working to produce a magazine that deserves you—a magazine that is a platform for ideas fostering justice, equality, and civic action.

If you value Guernica’s role in this era of obfuscation, please donate.

Help us stay in the fight by giving here.