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Hedi Kaddour

The Bus Driver

What has gotten into the bus driver
Who has left his bus, who has sat down
On a curb on the Place de l'Opéra
Where he slips into the ease of being
Nothing more than his own tears? The passers-by
Who bend over such a shared and
Presentable sorrow would like him
To tell them that the wind used to know
How to come out of the woods towards a woman's dress,
Or that one day his brother said to him
Even your shadow wants nothing to do with you.
His feet in a puddle, the bus driver
Can only repeat This work is hard
And people aren't kind.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 75, No. 3 (Fall 2001), p. 26

Marilyn Hacker
Photo Credit: Margaretta K. Mitchell

Marilyn Hacker lives in Paris and is the author of twelve books of poems, including Names and Desesperanto (Norton P), and an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (Michigan P). Her translations from the French include Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux), which received the 2009 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and Amina Saïd’s The Present Tense of the World (Black Widow P). For her own work, she received the PEN Voelcker Award for poetry in 2010. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Hacker has worked as a sales clerk, postal clerk, interviewer for NY State Employment Services, commercial editor of science fiction, antiquarian bookseller, teacher, literary editor The Kenyon Review, University of Michigan Poets on Poetry Series), translator, book reviewer, and poet.

Note: "The Bus Driver" appeared in Treason, poems by Hédi Kaddour, translated and prefaced by Marilyn Hacker, Yale University Press, 2010.