Translation Monika Zobel
Claude Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano
The body of your voice is heavy
like clouds piled high over the Alps.
Peaks, fictitious and fickle,
wear down the mountains until they rest
flat like a map of themselves.
The thick strings, clamped down
and fastened on the tips of spruces,
can only be plucked, not bowed,
and then only at precise moments.
But what the bow touches is fleeting
as falling rocks or the memory
of how the side of my body facing
yours instantly grew warm, as though
we were an early morning in summer.
I wanted to live among more eloquent tongues,
below skies that didn’t collapse mercilessly into emptiness.
One morning on the sidewalk a lens from a pair of glasses—
out of its frame—glared up at me, brought me into sharp
focus for the optic nerve of an absent person and passed
the image on towards the center of the earth. “But whosoever
shall zoom in into my interior shall fall through pixilated
clouds of an unredeemable I.” I continued on, entered
a house, remained here for a while, pressed my fingers
on square keys with strange symbols. Could be, I wrote,
we’ll meet in the wrong eon in the blue of a false planet,
could be that what we’re looking for with our eyes closed
is not here. Later I googled the bony world of positivism
and assured myself of your unproven love.
Originals © Helwig Brunner
Translations © Monika Zobel