The cavern was dark and the gathering was great.
In our midst, a puppet, the object of the wake.
We stood on either side of it, myself and Death,
With each one tugging at an arm. My final breath
Was encased in that flaccid, inanimate mask!
With my whole body I bent, as against a blast
Of icy wind, fighting Death with all my vigor,
Which blazed at the thought of emerging the victor.
If I failed in my effort, I knew I was lost;
My will to live grew tense—my life would be the cost.
But then Death ripped the miserable puppet in half—
I held on to my part, The crowd burst out in laugh-
ter. Then seizing its limp, mutilated trophy,
Death fled… and I now feared for my own destiny.
After Death disappeared, the crowd slowly vanished
Before my empty eyes. As the noise diminished,
I looked at my half of the puppet with a moan,
In the cavern grown dark where I stood all alone.
–Translated from the French by Guy Bennett