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Claire Malroux
  Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker

Elegy
          in memory of J.G.

The oblong church is filled up like an egg
An ant colony enclosed within
Its shell, drunk on organ tones and words
Which rustle in the shadow of the Word
Elijah's breeze, the Samaritan woman's
Living water, dried up now. The double portals
Open to let the hero pass through in silence
With stiffened fingers, this concert's soloist.
The conductor raises and lowers his arms
In the ceremony's measured tempo
Dress rehearsal where each one murmurs
Farewell to the other, to himself. Some,
Who still believe, recall Tennyson's lines:
And yet we trust . . .
That not one life shall be destroy'd
Or cast as rubbish to the void. . . .

                                    Where is
The child who counted out his own age on his fingers
And the universe's on his mother's lashes?
Others, nostalgic, watch a bird
Follow the coffin from above, neither
Soul nor Holy Ghost, but eyes and feathers
Terrified of bursting through the vault.