Poems by Francoise Roy

Translator, poet and prose writer, Francoise Roy was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1959. She has a Master's degree in Geography with a Certificate in Latin American Studies, as well as a Certificate in Translation from English to Spanish. Among the awards she has won are the following: National Literary Translation Award in Poetry (INBA, Mexico, 1997); Jacqueline Dery-Mochon Award, for her novel Si tu traversais le seuil (Linstant meme, Quebec City, 2005); Alonso Vidal National Poetry Award (Sonora, Mexico, 2007), Ditet e Naimit International Poetry Award (Tetovo, Macedonia, 2008), third place of the Timon de Oro National Contest in Poetry (Toluca, Mexico, 2010), Grand International Poetry Award of the Orient-Occident Academy (Curtea de Arges, Rumania, 2011). She has published one novel in Spanish and one in French, one book of short stories, one plaquette and ten books of poems, mostly in Spanish, four of them being bilingual (Spanish-French). She was granted in 2005 and in 2007 the Scholarship for Creative Work in Literature by the Jalisco Ministry of Culture, and in 2007, she was a resident artist at the Banff International Literary Translation Center at the Banff Centre for the Arts, in Alberta, Canada. She was twice (in 2009 and 2010) a finalist of the Radio Canada Literary contests. In 2009, she was an artist in residence in Argentina on behalf of the Mexican National Art Council. She has translated more than fifty books, mostly in poetry. She has been living in Guadalajara, Mexico, since 1992.


Dictate the words to me. Dictate as the Gabriel of the New Testament pronounced the words of the Annunciation. Give me the strength to read the parchment that hurts my eyes, like the other Gabriel, having appeared in front of Mohammed, ordered him to read the Koran. I will declaim whatever you dictate: the hole is dark inside, bowels come out of a place that is not theirs, the beings of Light look at all that on their supersonic screen hanging in the sky like a honeycomb on the cornice of an age-old building, but they can do nothing about it, the paper has to unroll completely. They faces are soaked in tears made of zirconium, the tears of a fountainhead, the tears of the primeval oceans that have dried up under the fire of these women in flames, the heat of the suns they are holding in their fists to replace their missing hearts.

A drop

A drop. Acid and balsam. Poison and its antidote.
A drop in the liquid caldron of hours passing.
Others before me have said it better:
I went towards the door/without turning back on my soul asleep
/I heard the ancient tinkling of her steps and the bell stroke of my heart.
Or else, people unknown to me
have explained the redness of my chest
that was unknown to them: I am alone./The weight of love
/Has buoyed me up/Till my head/Knocks against the sky.
/See me!/My hair is dripping with nectar-
Starlings carry it/On their black wings.
The weight, the anvil of memories, a wine press
where to grind the minutes spent without seeing you.
Lingerie kept in drawers, sealed,
sealed by the padlocks of time passing.

The pericardium

Pericardium: the fabric of a translucent petal.
A two-leaf case wrapping in its invisible valves the beating pearl of the heart.
Satin tegument, a mesh where God has bestowed the bright-red jewel pumping the heady sap of blood.
What effect could you ever have on the flickering almond the clockmaker from Above has entrusted you? Should you draw a veil on it to make its flesh evermore secret? Should you protect it as if the finest coating of a shield made of organza? Should you drape it, a milky cloth, an onion skin hiding the nesting dolls of the cardiac chambers, so the passing of death, peeling it, shall only leave behind -gem shining in the very core with the glow of a sun before it withers away-the tiny bone of love?

Combustion processes

Sweet catastrophe of the bodies being consumed, bridle of childhood tying us up to the heart tree (the ripe hearts fell off; others, unripe, will end up rotting on the branch).
Oh kiss sleeping on a knife, do you remember my mouth? I love you when you burn. Will you burn my blood? The kiss does not answer and turns a deaf ear to my begging torture, turning towards the wall where moonlight casts the shadow of our only body, a four-legged two-spinal-chord twenty-fingered animal brimming with memories.
Sweet catastrophe of the bodies consumed. When we met, we had to touch from afar not to go up in flames, hide the clandestine dagger under our skins not to mutually slash our throats while hugging.

Humming and quacking while we are bartering

Insects humming in their flight from your body to mine. The wind quacking on the edge of the asphodel field we use as our bed to lie in.

Porcelain eyes ingrained on the trees that see us bartering antiques under a moonlight brighter than the one shining the night before.

The bartering goes on: our skeletons heat up, they glisten, red-hot like horseshoes in the forge.

The sun, tightened in its corset of light, will comply with its schedule, tumbling the moon at dawn, but meanwhile, where would that thing of ours go on beating, so out of place? I see it startle in the parts of the body where we grow ornament pebbles, usually after watering them with miraculous water.

Our heartbeat does not dwindle, nor will it do so until we hear the chimes of morning prayers; maybe the last hours of penumbra will pass through the eye of the needle darning us together, and we shall be granted one more poplar, a lapis lazuli at no charge, an improvised fountain where to go wash our hair.

It won't be long before it happens: our faces, glowing from inside because of the heated bone lattice, will soon stop shining to then drop on our lap. But morning has not broken yet, and no storm, no matter how violent, can tear them off now.


This firearm wound you have on your head,
it looks like it fades away every morning
washed out
by the kindly waters of dawn.
And what a wound you have!
I am no traumatologist -what would I know
about femoral arteries and swelling,
platelets and septicemias?-
so I go on stitching as best I can
the small marking of half-opened lips
with the shape of an "o"
delimitating its hems.

I have the wisdom of midwives,
the age-old knowledge of astrologers,
but even so, one day, in some place,
(only corporal substances are in need of a place to be)
as much as I may succeed
in stopping the drop-by-drop hemorrhage
that is bleeding you out as patient as a water-clock,
maybe, say I, will you reach the rim
of that lukewarm hole,
the shifting grave where my love
-ignoring the exsanguination slowly killing you-
is waiting for your body, in absolute stillness.

Stay in front of the glass

Stay in front of the glass of the aquarium
Look at the dance of jellyfish, their fragile mesoglea.
Touch the bay window separating you from them: you also came from an aquarium, although you don't remember (it is no evil mirror but a transparent wall). There you shall see them, in the liquid gunpowder of your rage, grow wings, their nightingales becoming prey birds under the water.
You don't need binoculars: you are next to them, your nose touching the glass, seeing the submarine dovecot where a flock of birds pecks at your heart.
Your heart hanging on a hook behind the glass.



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