Mules were worth more than men
underground. They strained
to pull coalcars up the tracks
back into the slagheap light.
By chance, for example, at random
Au hasard Balthazar,
one of the three wise men
is a donkey watching men in passing
getting lost: father, seducer,
a tightwad albeit redeemed.
This selfishness, hubris, cruelty
is also human, says Bresson.
A woman’s body makes a child
fathers do not have to carry.
When a child dies
its mother dies inside.
One whose firstborn dies before her
will die twice,
her body growing a ghost.
Marie, she says, is not coming back.
Raped, Marie shuddered in the cold,
naked. Some men kill for pleasure.
Spanish light over the French Pyrenees.
pays folly with his donkey’s bray,
ready to die when the rains come.
The mother by her daughter’s grave
rebukes the murderer, gruffly
declaring Balthazar a saint,
La Sainte Bible his crown of flowers.
(after Au hasard Balthazar, 1966)
(26 November 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander