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This Great Society

 
 

Illustration: Hilary Jenkins


"Foraminifère” Poetry by Linnea Elynn McNally
Illustration: Hilary Jenkins

I.

Les foraminifères sont des petites choses. Très petites. On ne peut pas les voir à l’œil nu.
Elles sont comme l’amour, peut-être. Quand on les trouve, c’est beau.
Ça vaut la peine de les chercher.

Here we are, in a slowly bleaching field, our slowly burnishing bodies stretched out from one end of the earth to the next, being rubbed clean between blades of grass. Pages, flippant and unaware of our need for their words, their wisdom. Ces feuilles, elles dansent et se fanent. Nous sommes. Quelque chose.

Ants are biting my legs.
Et j’ai des fourmis dans les jambes.
I am antsy for something to burst. The sun, to send out its spores,
and litter us with his pollen.

Ces phrases, elles ne sont pas la même chose.
We are not the same,
mais
«we are living something together».

The next day, my arm has a bruise
from a bite
from the biggest ant of all.
He thinks it’s funny, and miraculously, so do I. I sort of show it off, I guess.


II.

Souvent, on reconnaît les foraminifères à leurs coquilles labyrinthiques et ouvragées.
Elles ressemblent à de la dentelle blanche, peut-être drapée
autour de quelque chose qui était jadis vivant,
comme un cœur.

I have a penchant for pretty, little, dead things. Old books, used clothes, finger-worn photos. And, yet,
j’adore les mots, parce qu’ils ont un pouls, et peuvent évoluer.
Ils se rident en dessous de mes mains et entre nos bouches.


III.

Their shells are of CaCO3. My shells have been made of guilt, and hard work, and bending over backwards. Stare long enough at these sediments, and you start to believe the calcified cage you’re living within is something worth polishing. You actually think you’re encased for good.
On peut dire “in love.”


IV.

The crazy thing, is,
he is telling me via Skype,
people only ever really think about les foraminifères in their dead state.
The shells are pretty pieces of work, yes, but there are very few of us who are lucky enough
to know them in their live beauty.

Show me, I’m thinking, over and over again. God, let me see just this once the beauty of something that breathes and lives and loves, all at the same time.

Look,
and he shows me –

and, dear Lord, it’s just like what I’ve imagined it should be: like the sun and his spores, and words under my fingers, and a heart whose blood pumps out to “form a dynamic net” with another. I will not waste my cytoplasm again. I will not let myself die so soon.

The bruise on my arm, it’s where someone pierced my body and found my soul. I am grateful to have seen something so microscopic but epic transpire on my very self. And I am grateful that what is left behind is not a husk of a former me, but something ever-evolving, ever-searching for those small, naked somethings I’m lucky enough to have known at least once.


V.

Selon moi,
no one has ever written a love story
à propos des foraminifères.

But this tale,
ce n’est pas pour tout le monde.
Non, cette fois, j'écris sur
les foraminifères – ces petites choses,
qui sont quelquefois enterrées en tous –
cette fois, j’écris pour toi, pour moi,
pour nous.

 

 

___

*English Translation Here

 
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