I was so hungry thinking how love used to taste
Odilon Redon (French, Bordeaux 1840–1916 Paris) Etruscan Vase with Flowers, 1900–10, public domain.

Language: French
Poet: Souad Labbize
Translator: Susanna Lang
Region: Algeria / France

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I was so hungry thinking how love used to taste

Five poems by Souad Labbize, translated from French by Susanna Lang

Souad Labbize was born in Algeria and lives in Toulouse, France. She has published several poetry collections, including Brouillons amoureux (Drafts of Love, Éditions des Lisières, 2017), from which these poems were selected. She writes in the name of all women who choose exile in order to affirm their independence.

Susanna Lang’s translations of poetry include Words in Stone by Yves Bonnefoy and Baalbek by Nohad Salameh. Her third collection of original poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx (Terrapin Books), was published in 2017. Among Other Stones, an e-chapbook of poems and translations, was published by Mudlark in 2021.

Je ne sais que faire
des raisons de t’aimer
une saison précoce
commence et finit
au milieu d’une autre
sans même nous faire
changer de vêtements

I don’t know what to make
of the reasons to love you
an early season
begins and ends
in the midst of another
we don’t even have to
change our clothes

L’écheveau de tes lieux
traverse mes bazars
tu déménages à ta guise
sans laisser d’adresse
fermant échoppe
ouvrant boutique
un soir de lune

The net of your premises
spans my bazaars
you change locations when you like
without leaving an address
close one stall
open another shop
in one moonlit evening

Grosse faim en pensant
au goût de l’amour perdu
j’ai mis à chauffer
le reste de soupe
aux légumes de mai
j’avais la flemme
de préparer un couscous
la pluie taquinait les plantes
derrière la buée de la vitre
je pensais à tous les retards
le tien
le printemps
l’amour
les légumes de printemps
la pluie n’a pas fait attention
au désordre de mes pensées
quand la buée s’est épaissie
je me suis souvenue
de ma grosse faim

I was so hungry
thinking how love used to taste
I turned on the stove
to warm the leftover soup
made with spring vegetables
I didn’t have the energy
to make a couscous
rain teased the plants
outside the foggy window
I thought of all that’s been delayed
you
spring
love
spring vegetables
the rain paid no attention
to my chaotic thoughts
when the fog thickened
I remembered
my great hunger

Te dire quoi
si les mots n’ont plus
de dents pour mordiller 
le lobe de ton oreille

What can I tell you
if words no longer
have teeth to nibble
the lobe of your ear

Tes paroles d’un soir
portent un pyjama
de petit garçon
je les borde
les accompagne
jusqu’à l’invisible lisière
j’éteins la lumière
et ferme la porte

Le matin d’ici
les trouve dans mon lit
comme l’enfant venu
se blottir au point du jour

Your words from that night
wear pajamas
like a little boy
I tuck them in
go with them
as far as the invisible border
turn out the light
and close the door

Here, morning
finds them in my bed
like the child
come to snuggle at dawn