Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Statue and I by Henri Michaux, translated by Steven Reese

In my spare moments, I am teaching a statue to walk.  Given its unnaturally prolonged immobility, it is not easy.  Not for it.  Not for me.  Great distance divides us, I am aware of that.  I'm not so foolish as to not understand that.

But one can't have all the good cards in one's hand.  Well, then, onward.

What matters is that the first step be right.  For the statue, everything is in the first step.  I know it.  I know it too well.  In that lies my anguish.  And so, I prepare.  I prepare as never before.

I get up close and copy its pose exactly, my foot lifted like its foot, and stiff as a stake driven into the ground.

But alas, it is never quite right.  Either the foot, its arch or how it is poised, or the style, something is always missing, and so that setting forth, so waited-for, is prevented.

That is why I have come to be nearly incapable of walking anymore, overcome with rigidity, though ever so spirited, and my bewitched body frightens me and will no longer carry me anywhere.