Sans soleil

I picked up the whole shot again,
adding the somewhat hazy end,

the frame trembling under the force of the wind
beating us down on the cliff:

everything I had cut in order to tidy up, and that said
better than all the rest what I saw in that moment,

why I held it at arms length, at zooms length,
until its last twenty-fourth of a second.

The city of Heimaey spread out below us.
And when five years later my friend Haroun Tazieff sent me the film
he had just shot in the same place

I lacked only the name to learn that
nature performs its own dondo-yaki;

the island's volcano had awakened.
I looked at those pictures, and it was as
if the entire year '65 had just been covered with ashes.

So, it sufficed to wait and the planet itself
staged the working of time.

I saw what had been my window again.
I saw emerge familiar roofs and balconies,
the landmarks of the walks I took through town every day,
down to the cliff where I had met the children.

The cat with white socks that Haroun had been considerate
enough to film for me naturally found its place.

And I thought, of all the prayers to time that had studded this trip
the kindest was the one spoken by the woman of Gotokuji,

who said simply to her cat Tora,
"Cat, wherever you are, peace be with you."