Nathalie Stephens

excerpts from current work

It is possible to write one’s day through letters, a letter.

        Here in this city the letters are many and the days are many. The city that was to be every possible thing that came before. I admit I exalted it. Now there is the broken glass river and our cut up feet. Now there is a horizon of hydro lines. And bridges. From a distance they might be beautiful. But underfoot... There is a small island of herons. And just beyond the beginning hunting ground. Gunshots. The dogs madden. City dogs. Their hearts furling. And me? What does it matter? I bark along with them.

        I was looking for something to soften living. The collapse of it. The reach of it. It was a coldest winter. The river was not wistful as I had imagined it. Tempestueux was the word I used. Wind billowing the rapids even whiter. Magesterial. I could live here I thought. Hook my eyes into frozen rock. What was I thinking? It is six months and already I am leaving. Eugène said une ville en vrac. He was right. What I first saw was monumental. A saillie of gorgeous concrete. Stairs spiralling. Turrets. A rue piétonne. Pigeons shitting on cobbled walks. A joie de vivre? It is best not to dream too much. The dogs began coughing. I laid down on the ground. Just to see. The police man moved me along.

       Here there is one poem and the poets keep writing it.


Someone said rain it rained the earth was wet.

           Isn’t that what was said?

          We were windswept, indiscreet. The street map pointed east so we wandered west. To cleft rock and the muted centuries. (The mutinous sentries.) We played like that with the whole damn alphabet. For the incensed, the senseless, the stupidities. Crying out all the time : Breach!

          We thought we had found breaking but broke instead into ourselves. Pillaged the greying handheld remains. Making light of dust. Saying we ruined the ruins laughingly.

          Shall I tell you instead?

          We walked to where the dead lay dying and turned our heads.