Author: Achim Wagner
Translator: Tony Frazer
Guanabo, Playas del Este, La Habana
or: The Beauty on the Beach
The beauty on the beach is called Gladis;
flashy in a string her glasses
almost black while chatting
when our arms touched.
She’s a teacher, mother,
her husband an ex-husband, with someone else,
in bed, the next child. The bathtub-sea
turquoise in the background,
this warm-water salt puddle,
my afternoon tincture.
Two underage mulatto girls, who have
Italians by beard, belly and bourse.
The uniformed lifeguard
recognises his con-men. Lazaro says
he can get anything.
The upper jaw, now only partly equipped,
words in soft fountains. We smoke.
What do you want, says Lazaro.
Fucking’s the only thing
that lets you forget all the shit
for a while;
I wipe his words from my face.
Gladis is not a whore,
only now and again, part-time,
she’s gotten used to the dough. Lazaro
strokes her honey-coloured skin. We’re
old friends, he smiles.
On this beach
everyone knows everyone else,
the women’s bodies love-hotels,
their openings safe deposit boxes
for the foreigners’ bundles of dollars.
until I can’t see palm trees anymore,
just wide open space,
a horizon in red,
some trouble getting back.
On the return bus journey to the dilapidated city
I think of Lazaro,
who can get everything,
something I don’t doubt at all,
I think of Gladis,
whose glance kisses everyone
who knows how to watch her.
27 lockgates on the way to the sea
sleepers bundled up on ku’damm’s corners
summer city berlin four o’clock in the morning scattered
cars on the streets police and delivery vans
urine-stink. . . two bar-girls with
legs crossed sit on folding
chairs in front of an empty all-night bar with red
neon heart over the entrance . . . a woman sways
up to me her eyes shining her words smell
of beer and brandy what she says at first i
can’t understand her head tilted to my shoulder
& for a moment i hold her in my arms will you c-c-c-
come wwwwwith m-m-m-me? i shake
my head she shoves me away & sways & swears . . . at
a snack-stand youths from some
security firm thuggish faces with shaved heads in
red t-shirts: loud wisecracks laughter ((&)) a whore
finishes her shift make-up smeared holding
her boots barefoot from zoo station by taxi to
the end of the night. . . there are 27 lockgates on the way to the sea
said the boat-rental man that afternoon in Treptow
Park & pointed out the way to go: my hands on the oars
back to the sun i beat into the river . . . yet
before the first lock i turned back shattered with
blisters on my fingers . . . now i’m looking for the sea
in the sky behind the railway platforms in vain a pole star
to guide my fictitious raft . . .
a pensioner asks me for a match i light his
cigarette he wants to know my name achim
i growl & wait for a monologue that i don’t
want to hear but the old guy just says thank you
achim smiles nods goes ((& i’m ashamed)) . . . i
pinch three freshly-printed newspapers from mailboxes as
blankets for my temporary bed = a wooden bench at
the kaiser wilhelm memorial church . . . in my
trouser pockets i find two banknotes & stuff
them into my shoes . . . i assume my luggage is in
a locker to which i’ve lost the key . . .
i feel wrinkles on my brow a tired body which
vanquishes every thought & i feel like a
supporting character in a maxim gorky story just
passing through . . . i’ll catch the first train
after i get up whether it goes left or right . . . there are
27 lockgates on the way to the sea . . .