Spring 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 2 Poetry |

The Last Night of the Pharmacist’s Wife

The wind above the glaciers that rushed here from the desert comes barely cooled to torment the tall pine tree's branches. When everything is in labor, how can you sleep, how can you die? On the slow smooth waters, the flat boats, the black boats are, like the soul, almost permanently moored. The year grows long before it brings back the distracted daughter, the son loved from afar. The children who laughed in her arms, on her breasts, rarely write to the pharmacist's wife even to ask for remedies. Beauty is cheap, except as a last appeal that will no longer be heard. O captive between the seasons, the barrel of fresh cabbages cut in the cellar in October's first frosts, when with the swallows all at once departed, you wake in the first silence of late fall. Odile, the plain is merciless. At night frogs at a loss to reproduce complain. The stork plunges its long lecherous beak down other chimneys. The clock with heavy wooden shoes, the heart with its heavy

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Marilyn Hacker is the author of twelve books of poems, most recently Names (W.W. Norton 2010), and of ten collections of poetry translated from French. She received the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation in 2009 for Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a former editor of The Kenyon Review.

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