Yves Bonnefoy's (1923- ) work includes The Act and the Place of Poetry, Mythologies, and studies of Miró and Rimbaud.

The Branch

Branch I pick up from the edge of the woods
Only to abandon you at the world¹s end,
Hidden among stones, in the shelter
Where the other path invisibly begins

(For each earthly instant is a crossroads
Where, as summer dies, our shadow
Runs to its other land in the same trees,
And only rarely in another year
Do you pick up that branch with which, distractedly,
You bent the summer grasses),

Branch, I think of you now that it is snowing.
I see you tightening above inscrutable
Knots of wood, there where the bark is peeling,
With the swell of your dark forces.

And I return, a shadow on the white ground,
To your sleep that haunts my memory,
I pluck you from your dream, which scatters,
Being only water filled with light.
I take you where the earth
Falls suddenly away among the trees
And I hurl you with all my power,
I listen as you bound from stone to stone.

(No, I want you
For one moment more. I go on, I take
The third path that I saw
Vanishing in the grasses, without knowing
Why I did not enter those dark thickets
Where no birds sing.
I go on, soon I am in a house
Where once I lived, but whose way
Was lost: as in our lives, sometimes
Words are said, without our noticing,
Into the eternal for the last time.
A fire burns still in a deserted room,
I listen as it searches in the mirror
Of embers for the bough of light,
Like the god who believes he will create
A life, a spirit, in the night whose knots
Are serried, infinite, labyrinthine.

Then I place you gently on a bed of flames,
I watch you flare up in your sleep,
I bend over you, long afterwards I still hold
Your hand, which is childhood, dying.)

Alison Croggon has published two award-winning collections of poems - This is the Stone (Penguin, 1990) and
The Blue Gate (Black Pepper Press, 1997) - and a novella, Navigatio (Black Pepper, 1996). She was 2000 Australia
Council Writer in residence at Cambridge University, UK. Her most recent work was the opera "Gauguin," scored by
Michael Smetanin, which premiered at the 2000 Melbourne Festival.