dead man’s float

Author: Nadja K├╝chenmeister
Translator: Lara Ehrenhofer

dead man’s float

just the clouds drifting today and the film begins
smell of summer and scorched meadows and myself
waterborne playing dead man’s float and this stone that
gashed my foot still there in the showcase under
dust and scribbles the cards three people in the grass the
midges came father why aren’t you saying anything
but you don’t need to rescue the dead and mother
brother looking up from their hands and did not turn
to see the dead


when the door is closed, even the dogs
quieten in their kennels. air traffic has ceased, no
lawn mowers, no clocks tick, no disturbances. just

the hem of the curtain trailing on the floor. a ray of light
piercing my eye. feverish feelings. the wood creaks quietly,
just a wasp pummeling the window. outside, pines

are swaying. in the room, under my bed, where there is
someone with a blunt knife, fluff jitters. dust.
dust. i hear the wasp above me. the clattering

of dishes from the kitchen, glasses clinking, cutlery now:
who, if i cried out, would hear me, once the nature film
had started on channel three and conversation was in full swing

and none of it is meant for me, trapped in the endless
afternoon light. dust. dust. am i the insect, exhausted
beyond measure my mother lay in this bed as a child.


there’s a bee-hive up in the rafters
even years later, you meet
at funerals and talk about stings
i hardly recognised you
now the room is light again

and you remember: he was always one
of the nice ones. stood at the fence and kept on waving
even when everyone was out of sight
and heading for the motorway. he would stand
and wave for hours to hell

with the bees! i’m no specialist in
these things then, in the evenings, he takes the dog
to go look at boats in the backwater, commen-
ting on the water level, on cloud cover.
youngsters (rural face) pricked ears: don’t

pull, then you can stroke him…
listen to stories about beehives in the rafters
he sleeps alone, nights. they won’t give you honey
just stings. lies on the old camping mat, view
of the window, no curtains. nothing is sealed.

worm-eaten floor. there’s a draught. a hole in the
clouds reveals the stars, soon reobscured
the opening and closing of the shutter up there, he
nods off for several hours. woken by
perpetual humming. now the room is light again

and the smell of honey cake leaks from the kitchen
where father sits with coffee black and cigarettes,
the radio playing quietly. it is still the dead of night. his
voice, however, speaks. a single star in the crossbars
which, a short dream later, had expired long ago