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Bale upon bale of black cloth waited to enfold me. This much I knew.

The monk looked into her mouth Empty of teeth and kisses.
His black hat
Stained the blue of the sky
And his serenity was all folds
Like the heavy silk
In a Dutch painting.
Yanoussa imagined
The hours of his redemption
Steeped in oil and silence
And his solitary walks
Along the brink of the cooling precipice
Of temptation.
And as the polar bear
Endures the cold by imitating death
Inside its frozen hole,
So the soul of the monk
Inside the grey sack of his brain
Imitates the absolute
In order to endure life.
Only his sobs can be heard
At night when the moon is shining,
And the snap of the vine twigs

As he kneels.

Translated byKaterina Anghelaki-Rooke and Jackie Willcot