Untitled Selections From L’Adolescence

[translated poetry]

And when the night draws its celebrations to a close, the hares undress all alone, sexes smeared from long storms. Perhaps we’ve forgotten that the body, yes the body, finds a desolate kind of beauty once exposed.

*     *     *

our smoke-scented dreams sketch
a flock of snow geese
on the ceiling of possibilities

I have a ski-doo on asphalt at night
in my belly
with all its shooting sparks

*     *     *

Balsam fir dance in slow motion and the earth
shudders as I come
as my fingers find the burning ember.

I want this vertigo as a vow
to sap the cruel beauty
of oil-slick rainbows.

Et quand la nuit ferme les fêtes les lièvres se déshabillent tout seuls, le sexe barbouillé de longues tempêtes. C’est là peut-être on ne sait plus que le corps, oui le corps, retrouve sa plus belle misère du blanc des yeux.

*     *     *

nos rêves sentent la boucane et dessinent
un voilier d’oies blanches
sur le plafond des possibles

j’ai dans le ventre un ski-doo la nuit sur l’asphalte
avec toutes les étincelles que ça peut faire

*     *     *

Les sapins dansent en slow motion et la terre
d’orgasme vibre
de mes doigts ramenant la braise

Je veux le vertige comme une promesse
et enfin manger la beaute cruelle
des arcs-en-ciel dans les flaques de gaz

Translator’s Statement:

The three poems included here belong to a longer sequence, “L’Adolescence,” within Marie-Andrée Gill’s second poetry collection, SPAWN. SPAWN examines the layered influences of twenty-first-century imperialism, ecological blight, and ’90s-kid culture upon the speaker’s life and home on the Mashteuiatsh reserve in Quebec. The “L’Adolescence” sequence offers fragments and scenes from the speaker’s coming-of-age and her exploration of desire within the collection’s broader themes, drawing upon images from the natural landscape—balsam fir, hares, snow geese—as well as those of industrialization and mass culture—arcades, oil slicks, ski-doos.

Kristen Renee Miller’s poems and translations have appeared in POETRY, The Kenyon Review, Guernica, and Best New Poets 2018. She is the English-language translator of SPAWN by Ilnu Nation poet Marie-Andrée Gill. A recipient of honors and fellowships from The Kennedy Center, The Humana Festival, The Kentucky Arts Council, and elsewhere, she lives in Louisville, KY, where she is the managing editor for Sarabande.

Marie-Andrée Gill is Pekuakamishkueu and a poet. Mother, friend, lover, student, her research and creative work concern transpersonal and decolonial love. Bridging kitsch and existentialism, her writing is rooted in territory and interiority, combining her Quebec and Ilnu identities. She is the author of three books from La Peuplade: Béante, Frayer, and Chauffer le dehors.