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Louise Cotnoir

Louise Cotnoir is the author of more than twenty
books. In 1996, Tell Me I’m Imagining This was a
finalist for the Governor General’s Award. In 2016,
she published a collection of poems entitled Vanessa
Bell soeur de Virginia Woolf
, and, in 2017, Le frère
, her first novel.

Antonio D’Alfonso is a writer and translator.


from Woman, keep the darkness in mind

Woman, keep the darkness in mind. Entrenchment
on your forehead smashed. I say darkness, the
perspective of what is blows out, of what none can no
longer hurt. Bewildered, crazy. Each strolling with
their lives on the glossy covers of magazines, the world
has the stench of a urinal. Sight has no bearing
anymore, breaking against the pink-tinted glasses.
There are days when Death knocks against it.

There is a woman in a storm, gathering the bits and
pieces. Undaunted as she unveils the horror. Water
seeps into the bending ferns. Sunday. Passion at hand.
The woman bends and models the roundness of her
cheek on the mist-covered windowpane where every
person of the city appears. Marine landscape. She
touches without touching, uncertain the distance
between herself and the wolves. The sway of slumber.
It’s almost autumn.

Not to recognize anything anymore. Dirty wet bed
sheets. So strange that she does not remember where
she comes from. She steps out, camera in hand,
looking for footsteps on which she can put her feet.
She is walking through every garden, every café all the
way to the beach. She pauses there, feet throbbing,
numb in the waves. The taste of water pulls her
underwater. On the photograph, that is all we see.
Water, in which she recognizes herself.

Like the Welwitschia Mirabilis I dive into the heat,
the fire of sand. Are there phreatic waters in this desert
hell? With wetness and the softness of the beach, I
fashion the body of women. On my hands the
incurable, unsteady, and fleeting flavors of obsession. I
stand up against Death and spread out like an omen.
Muddy, black, desire deep in my mouth, the purvey
the future so that it will not fall in ruins. Mesmerized
by nature as an apparition, I stagger forward, turn my
head back to heed the steps taken.

Impossible for me to act differently. I transform and
distort. I invent names and stories for the faces I see on
the bus. I lie to myself so as to not miss a thing. Good
times, bad times, I stare at the passengers with
intensity. I memorize a handful of sentences overheard
so that they can serve me in dialogues and echoes. The
bus ticket in between my teeth, I often wreck the dark.
Nothing surprises me anymore.


From Daring Touch
by Louise Cotnoir
© 1987 Louise Cotnoir and Les Éditions du Noroît
Translation © 2017 Antonio D'Alfonso
Published by Ekstasis Editions