Author: Jan Wagner
Translator: Adrian Nichols


more ancient than the bishop’s staff
which he drags behind him, the crook
of his tail. come down, we call
to him on the branch, while his tongue
zips out like a telescope, and he tucks away
the constellation of a dragon-fly: an astronomer
who splits his glance between heaven
and earth – and thus keeps his distance
to both. the domes of his eyes, armored
with scales, a fortress within which
only the pupils budge, a nervous
flickering behind the arrowslit (once in a while
you’ll come across his skin like an empty
stronghold, like a long abandoned theory).
come down, we call. but he doesn’t
stir. he vanishes slowly among
the colors. he slips into the world.

Original © Jan Wagner
Translation © Adrian Nichols