badamm badamm
don’t come closer i’m freezing
if your house burns
“and as for hope, i learned that deep in the forest”
april, the tail-end

Author: Juliane Liebert
Translator: Gwendoline Choi


badamm badamm

this year, our parents started dying. they put down their scrubs, keyboards and steering wheels and marched off to the hospital as if they had made an appointment. we were far from adults ourselves. my mother went first. we took her straight from work to the hospital. she was yellow as straw and declared the whole thing a routine check-up, asking for the daily paper and chocolate and liquorice kitties to be brought to her bedside. the next two weeks, i watched her swell up. the more her mind went, the more she loved me. i sat at her bedside and watched her fade away. the doctors asked me to sign for the procedures needed to maintain the complicated system that was her body. signatures for infusions and colonoscopies and punctures. i went to doctors, caretakers and even more doctors, i sterilized my hands before and after i left her room. i prayed, even though i didn’t really pray. she kept swelling, her feet couldn’t hold the water, her arms and legs kept swelling more and more, her skin chafed ‘til sore. i bought her toiletries, a red lipstick so that she could make herself look pretty as soon as she was better. she died for 23 minutes, was revived, lay there in a bed of warm air, her heart beating, badamm badamm, the doctors wanted signatures, badamm, i stroked her hair, i had to wear respiratory masks when i was with her. they called me the morning of easter sunday, she was clinically dead, they had kept her body alive so i could say goodbye. i walked down the corridor, holding my little grandma by the hand. she lay in the middle of all these machines like a queen, 300 cubic metres of machine for a bed where nobody was left. her heart was still beating but her internal organs had deteriorated, or so i was told. we went, she went. i was left alone with her full flat and her half-full refrigerator, while outside, spring began.



don’t come closer now i’m freezing

don’t come closer now i’m freezing
as if i had a thousand bodies one
per revolution one per pulse one
young one old one in a petrol station
in lapland one with bangs that don’t suit me
and my mother who’s still crying
while i’m already eating onions and feel you
through all the skins: your fingers
burning animals upstarts
people roaming

we’ll be rich in the shelter
of our arching ribs we’ll start a circus
we’ll be the belly-less lady
the clown with the iron lungs we’ll be
the high wire the bengal tigers the dwarfs
with the ceramic feet shapeless vessels
now don’t hold still i’ll make us
two children one from wood
one from air one hard and
one soft and you
suckling in their place



if your house burns

if your house burns, what d’you do?
fetch water, sand
shut the burning room
save the kids, the dog
call for help, warn the neighbours

pour oil
into the fire so that it’s finally torched
and you’re rid of it
this damn house




“and as for hope, i learned that deep in the forest”

the trees stood as if freshly gathered (or as if they were standing in line:
for a loaf of bread) the sky digested planes
the brickyards hired themselves out: as reading rooms, as inflatable castles, as lawns
a self-protection facility by every blackberry hedge

only we slept peacefully. on the radio
songs lied, and it wasn’t just
the two of us lying in the grass, now friends
but also hedgehogs and flies loyal to home
an occasional deer. a trampoline
at a set table in an apple orchard




i’ve no father
i’ve no mother
i was born at 30
from a top ramen cup
and a dream



april, the tail-end

it’s been summer for two months now
another plague: the sky
unfazed indiscriminately blue
day after day

(have you noticed
that you can’t hear any planes nor see
any jet trails)

even the trees do their daily jobs
you don’t begrudge each their longevity, you say

but you’re only interested in those
who were born from deficiencies: ease
always carries pain in its luggage

a quiet wind machine
a quantum cautiousness

sound is to be understood as agitated air


From Juliane Liebert, lieder an das große nichts, (songs to the great void),  Suhrkamp 2021.