Size / / /

You take your time putting on the shirt of the walls,
just as others might put on the shirt of death.

Yes. Every day, you put on the tight shirt of the walls,
                                  the flying mastiffs of the shutters.

Oh, the walls, the walls — the friends, the enemies,
           the smooth delay, their pockets full of holes,
           their thin mare ankles, the raspberry bushes,
                                and the pump that irrigates them with force
                                right from the depths of your heart
                                as though from a vein of excrement,
            the fieriness that once made glue of their hair,
            the soles of their feet where they left their heavy marks,
            the little homunculi hands
                        holding you against their chest
            and soaping up, so gently, the knot on your rope,
                         always the same, always close,
                                   as though you were already sleeping
                                                        somewhere, underground;
          they jangle the bells of illusion;
                    that jingling — shaking —
                    like that of the barrel of a revolver
                                                          struck against your teeth.

You wake up in the morning and put on the shirt of the walls.
You go to bed at night and put on the smooth shirt of the walls.

Linda Maria Baros, born in Romania in 1981, has published six books of poetry in French. Her recent collection, La nageuse désossée, was awarded three international prizes in 2021. Her poems have been translated into forty-one languages, and she herself has translated fifty-four books. She lives in Paris.