First of January, Resolutions
Berlin, City of Childhood
My Grandmother
Walk in May 2016
In Winter

Author: Michael Krüger
Translator: Karen Leeder


From ‘Postscript to a Poetics


First of January, Resolutions

I am starting a new notebook
for questions that need no answers.
How long will this snow
linger on the rowan twigs?
Last night I dreamed I was riding
the wrong way on an escalator.
I wanted to find the returns depot,
my use-by-date had passed.
Why this irksome reticence in me?
And why, as in recent years,
does the stone have no voice?


Berlin, City of Childhood

At the end of the street, just
where it curves,
so one cannot see
whether it carries on,

sits an old dog.
He clearly does not know
how to get home.
It’s like that with me.

I was quite certain
that I lived here once.
In the house opposite
a bomb was once diffused.

A young woman brings her
rubbish to the bin in triumph,
as if it contained her whole life.
Out with it. She observes me for a long time,

but comes to other conclusions.
From an open window the sound
of a crying child.
It must have been this house.


My Grandmother

expected neither reward nor punishment
from life. She knew exactly
what wasn’t at stake. The rest was
for men in uniform,
or philosophers.
Gloves, for example, she
never wore, so as not to make them dirty.
Chamomile, cornflower and broad bean
went to school with her,
all of them passed with Distinction
as there were no fertilizers
after the great war.
What splendid broad beans.
Here, in the mountains my grandmother
never saw, when I looked today
at the grey grass from last year
that could finally breathe
after the long winter siege,
I was reminded
that she expected neither reward
nor punishment from life.
But what then? Nothing,
truth be told, nothing.


Walk in May, 2016

The sky a grey basin of ash,
where a greedy wind buries itself.
The earth steams with early warmth, beckoning
roots towards the light. I shall stop being a child,
shall not ask the grass for advice,
when the stones withdraw and are silent,
as if it really were a question of life and death.
Something else is at stake. It cannot be spoken
in my language. The dead know it:
they argue night after night in my head,
until morning switches off their voices.
Here and there patches of snow
that will not disperse, and on the weir
the complete works of old leaves.
But for the angry sobbing of the wind,
the truth might make itself known,
the artless truth that looks so much like grass.


In Winter

I lay among drifts of snow,
by the larches, where in Autumn
the wind gathers the sheep,
and waited for the end
of distraction. No more birds
in the rowan, no sound,
no hub-bub in this white state.
Inscrutable and empty.
Eyes closed, I saw
my grandmother’s chapped hands
as she skilfully quartered an apple
and made us all equal
on an afternoon in winter.


Einmal Einfach, Suhrkamp, 2018.

hunting song
open your eyes
my friends
denuded trees
the open sea

Author: Ulrike Almut Sandig
Translator: Karen Leeder

here are the creatures, here the stalls, here
you have straw. where there’s no one
reciting, and no one recording, where
language is a horse that foams at the
mouth, where the reins have been sold off,
where your own crazy mare, just like a new
born, stands on the pavement, scraping its
hooves and always passes through just as
our eyelids flicker in concert and someone
else is rolling his eyes, where it passes
through, alongside the road-markings, and
gets smaller towards the edge of the
picture, and then disappears, to the place
with the lights on where the others all live.
and there you will find those bright ringing
horses. there are their stalls and inside the
straw. my sleep, my ears, my hunting
– be still! there we were perfect.
that’s where the stalls were and inside the



give me the cut fields under the film of air.

give me the pine trees. they tug at the motionless light.

give me the fish pond in the corner, the duckweed on top.

give me the verdigris that darkens so quickly on this house
of mine that stands alone. the clouds roll on past. open
your eyes
. already the morning is spreading in every direction.



once I lost a friend to whom I had done wrong.
once I lost another whom I’d simply forgotten:

for no reason. once I lost that plastic ring,
green as grass, that belonged to my friend and
not long after, the friend herself. just why I
lost her has slipped my mind too, and also for
no reason. not to worry! it stands to reason:
my friends are in the kampfzone of the forest,
where even the trees disappear. they are
stooped beneath the wind. one of them wears
a plastic ring on her finger, green as grass. I
saw it somewhere else once before.



when I left the afternoon was already over. straggling
children tidied themselves from the playground into the
houses. the first rockets hissed invisibly, still almost inaudible
the throb of the bass. the roadside for quite some distance
was overcast with the haze of denuded trees, they smelled of

cuckoo flowers in the woods, and dozing above them the real
clouds in the wind hole, polar light, biting ice. once a chunk
of milk glass fell to the ground in front of me. before I could
tread on it, it melted away. that’s when I finally left. after that
I forgot everything here.                    I was back by new year.



no. they never fly south
in the south one is always alone.
I heard them flying by night, at the start
still the flurry of wings, lonely cries
as they soared up high and higher to reach
the moon and land on the darkest side
turned away from the earth, and stand
for a long, long time. wing to wing
pressed close together: geese, geese
on the airless, the flying moon.



record it, my sailor, record what
is still standing and then read
it aloud. maybe someone can
find a use for it all: for your bed
and my T-shirt, for the flowers
in the vase, the coffee in the pot
and the strange shaggy-maned
mutt that has slipped, dripping wet
into the sheets with us. for here it is dry
dry and good. and we three will
lie here as long as permitted.
the sky-blue, the open sea that
will draw us in, the three of us
(the creature a little ahead of us
perhaps), record it all my sailor:

what the … it can come, the open sea,

it can come for us even tomorrow.




From Dickicht.  Schöffling & Co., 2011).