At Friedl’s
The Missing

Author: Friedrich Ani
Translator: Alexander Booth



An old man’s silent steps: red
leaves in October, snow on the day of his
birth, a resourceful summer, rain at
first rendezvous for the skin beneath
a dress, waving and longing and the lovely
being close, too. He walks across the city.
Nights he strews the crumbs of his happiness
in the station and deserted streets.


In ‘78 I’d lie in the English Garden,
around me October and
the scent of Afghan grass. I’d
lie on my back, the sky
bursting with God. Later I’d go drink
dark beers or Baden wine
at Friedl’s on Gravelottestraße.
My day-to-day a
holy nothing.


Dim shadows await us now,
the sea within us is dry and
all the garden tables taken up
by our forebears with their stony mouths.
They look at us, and we know:
summer’s voices are removed,
once again we play the missing
game outside, inside the room in twos.


                         Im Zimmer meines Vaters, Suhrkamp, 2017.