"In Valleys" by Adam Zagajewski
And the lovely Garonne, which passes
through drowsy villages each night
like a priest with the last sacrament.
Dark clouds grow in the sky.
The Visigoths live on, in certain faces.
In summer the empire of insects spreads.
You consider how not to be yourself:
is it only on journeys, in valleys,
which open others' wounds?
In a bookshop the sales clerk calls
the author of To the Lighthouse
Virginia. As if she might
turn up at any minute, on a bicycle,
with her long, sad face.
But Paul Valery (of the Academy) thought
history didn't exist. Perhaps he was right.
Perhaps we've been taken in. When he was dying.
General de Gaulle tried to find him
penicillin. Too late.