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Charline Lambert: a poem

from Dialyzing, by Charline Lambert

Translated from the French by John Taylor

A desire is an incipient fire in one sense. Like a lightning bolt. It demands to be elucidated.

Is in charge of transporting all the enzymes – from hunger to the wolf from the wolf to the moon from the moon to the tides from the tides to the demons from the demons to the sinking from the sinking to the decomposition.

Why, however, does it always have the same name?


She knows little of it: it screams her, she is only its echo, its prolongation.

She embodies its excess.

Its language.


Absent in her own particles, but diffused in a landscape.

No gravity.


In daubs of oil, she recomposes, layer after layer, the epidermis of a vast sea, blisters waves on a blue cloth.

The slack loom comes to life and spits out the wet pollens, which whiten her eyelashes into a slow, slow mascara of sea spray, and polish her quicklime gaze.


A deposit, in sediments, becomes limestone, then marble.

The gaze sharpens, cuts out.

Fog into tempered glass.


Enringed by the kohl of desire, she is bathing in the alcove of the immensity.

Little by little her body is unveiled and circumscribed by the sky – which then carries its constellations onto her before linking them.

Divine translation.


Livened by storms, peopled by cosmogonies or third worlds, she is going nowhere, nor comes from elsewhere; she keeps showing the same retaining movement, the same unbearable hunger.


Sometimes, kneeling in the sea, she dips her arms in, gets her lungs wet – two unsinkable rocks.

Sinks her face in.

And she rinses her drowning breath, her Virginia distress.


She irrigates her stomach.

Illumines it, both it and the idea that it bears.


Hastened by the urgency, she throws herself into the water.

Becomes flustered.

Vanishing in the proliferating waters, she insists that the ocean free a manna of lungs.


She invades the place, demands the destabilization of all the viable elements – water, gas, and plasmas.

Lops, Lops, what no longer belongs to the placenta.


In this exchange organ, sibylline sentences are latent, distributed like hand lines that furrow and join up in one great linea negra:

always make an alliance with what keeps you temporary.


On the surface of the water can be glimpsed a ripple, an ink line on the landscape, while this sea goes back out, shaken by contractions, until its tendons break, crack like whiplashes that quirt it until the final twitch.

Until something is transformed and takes shape.

—from Sous dialyses (©Éditions L’Âge d’Homme, 2016)

Charline Lambert was born in 1989 in Liège, Belgium. She is the author of four books of poetry: Chanvre et lierre (“Hemp and Ivy” Éditions Le Taillis Pré, 2016), Sous dialyses (“Dialyzing” Éditions L’Âge d’Homme, 2016), Désincarcération (“Decarceration” Éditions L’Âge d’Homme, 2017), and Une salve (“A Salvo” Éditions L’Âge d’Homme, 2020). She is currently finishing her Ph.D. thesis on the relation between poetry and deafness.

John Taylor’s most recent translations are, from the French, José-Flore Tappy’s Trás-os-Montes (The MadHat Press) and, from the Italian, Franca Mancinelli’s The Butterfly Cemetery: Selected Prose 2008-2021 (The Bitter Oleander Press) – of which three pieces originally appeared in One Hand Clapping. His most recent book of poems is Transizioni, a bilingual volume published in Italy by LYRIKS Editore and illustrated by the Greek artist Alekos Fassianos.

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