The Dining Room

There is a faintly glowing cupboard                               

that has heard the voice of my great-aunts,

heard the voice of my grandfather,

heard my father’s voice—

and to their memory is faithful.

Do not assume she is always silent,

for we talk....

There is also a wooden cuckoo.

I do not know why he has no voice.

I do not want to ask.

Perhaps, quite simply, it broke—

the voice that was in the spring—

like the voice of the dead.     

There is an ancient buffet too,

scented with beeswax, preserves,

meat, bread, and ripe pears.

He’s a loyal servant who understands 

he must never steal anything.

Many men and women who do not believe

in these little souls have visited me.

And whenever a visitor enters

and says, How are you, Monsieur Jammes?

I smile—they think I live alone.

Cover photograph, Une mer de nuages, by Elodie Capin

Under the Azure,  poems of Francis Jammes

translated by  Janine Canan