An excerpt from “Beyond Elsewhere” by Gabriel-Arnou Laujeac, translated from the French by Hélène Cardona

“Canto d’amore” by Leonardo Bistolfi

The first love wards off the specter of a world inhabited by rusty winged adults with collapsed dreams, whose automated arms open before you but no longer close. It takes the place of worldly theater, of a societal lie, of a future with deserted temples and a wrinkled forehead. Curtain. Give way to the sun. To all the rising suns.

The light is here, with her.

She reveals herself to my gaze naturally, the way spring unveils the blueness of sky or the gold of your skin. She slowly removes makeup, masks and ornaments, and gives me a vision of herself bewitched, of herself bewitching: she adores me and I unlock her.

Sprung raw from a virginal flame, passion takes us whole under its animal breath: the sun sparks impale our bodies galloping in a crash of oceans.

We reign in this world where the beloved becomes everything, the only face of what is faceless, this shoreless elsewhere suddenly offering itself bare: we reign as servants of the first heartbreak given over to the fervor and dictatorship of our eighteen years.

From Beyond Elsewhere by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac (White Pine Press, 2016), translated from the French by Hélène Cardona

~

Le premier amour

Le premier amour conjure le spectre d’un monde d’adultes aux ailes rouillées, aux rêves effondrés, aux bras d’automates qui s’ouvrent devant vous mais ne se referment plus. Il prend la place du théâtre mondain, du mensonge citoyen et d’un devenir aux temples déserts, au front ridé. Rideau. Place au soleil. À tous les soleils levants.

La lumière est ici, avec elle.

Elle se révèle à mon regard naturellement, comme le printemps dévoile le bleu du ciel ou l’or de votre peau. Elle retire lentement fards, masques et parures et m’offre la vision d’une elle-même ensorcelée, d’une elle-même ensorcelante : une elle-m’aime et moi aussi.

Jaillie à vif d’une flamme virginale, la passion nous prend tout entiers dans son souffle animal : les étincelles du soleil parcourent nos corps au galop dans un fracas d’océans.

Jaillie à vif d’une flamme virginale, la passion nous prend tout entiers dans son souffle animal : les étincelles du soleil parcourent nos corps au galop dans un fracas d’océans.

Nous régnons en ce monde où l’être aimé devient tout, l’unique visage de ce qui n’a pas de visage, cet ailleurs sans rivage qui soudain s’offre à nu : nous régnons en serviteurs de la première brûlure, livrés à la ferveur et à la dictature de nos dix-huit ans.

Excerpt from Plus loin qu’ailleurs by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac (Éditions du Cygne, 2013)

~

Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac is the author of the acclaimed Beyond Elsewhere (Éditions du Cygne, 2013). He has been published in numerous anthologies of short stories and poetry, including Petite anthologie de la jeune poésie française (Éditions Géhess, 2009), Le livre de la prière (Éditions de l’Inférieur, 2013), and literary and philosophical journals, notably Les Citadelles, Poésie Directe, Littérales, Polyglotte, Recours au Poème, Testament, 3è Millénaire and L’Opinion indépendante. He contributed to the book Irak, la faute, with Alain Michel and Fabien Voyer (Éditions du Cerf, 2000). He graduated from Sciences Po and holds a Master’s degree (Fondements des Droits de l’Homme). He also studied philosophy and Eastern poetry.

Hélène Cardona is an award-winning poet and actor, author of Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry), Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of Dorianne Laux, Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), her translation of Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, and The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press). She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College and LMU, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She co-edits Dublin Poetry Review and Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Warwick Review, Plume, Irish Literary Times, Los Angeles Review & more.

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