Your attention, ladies
and gentlemen, your attention for one moment:
Turn your heads for a second to this part of the republic,
Forget for one night your personal affairs,
Pleasure and pain can wait at the door:
There's a voice from this part of the republic.
Your attention, ladies and gentlemen!
Your attention for one moment!
A soul that has been
bottled up for years
In a sort of sexual and intellectual abyss,
Nourishing itself most inadequately through the nose,
Desires to be heard.
I'd like to find out some things,
I need a little light, the garden's covered with flies,
My mental state's a disaster,
I work things out in my peculiar way,
As I say these things I see a bicycle leaning against a wall,
I see a bridge
And a car disappearing between the buildings.
You comb your hair,
that's true, you walk in the gardens,
Under your skins you have other skins,
You have a seventh sense
Which lets you in and out automatically.
But I'm a child calling to its mother from behind rocks,
I'm a pilgrim who makes stones jump as high as his nose,
A tree crying out to be covered with leaves.
by W.S. Merwin
Antipoems: New and Selected (edited by David Unger), New York,
New Directions, 1985.