Kloppitz/Kłopot nad Odrą
And tended snow in my warm hands

Author: Marion Poschmann
Translator: Margaret May


Kloppitz/Kłopot nad Odrą

Bodies, depositories of history, one replacing
another, all alike, ordinary
in the light of day, leaving
trees at the roadside, a type of tangibility,
bodies, bloated, gaunt and
drawn daily deeper
into goulash and noodles, into pea
soup, the pungent smells of noonday,
of recognisability, tables,
canteens, repeating each day’s
weakness, soothing, benches
at evening next to the houses, bodies
soak up the warmth of the walls
to ward off winter, the return
of the repressed, a west wind swirls smoke
over from (what once was) Stalinstadt,

believable, nearby smells, deposited in layers,
calling up what came before, images of diesel engines,
remembered lignite, fields, all ploughed,
‘storks breed in this place’,
‘built upon sand’, soft
bodies in which this occurs,
bodies, yielding, it’s everywhere
so very much the same

The terrible has many forms,
but none more terrible than man.
Sophocles, Antigone

And tended snow in my warm hands

you were only dreaming of a long-haul flight.
Only yesterday I stayed in deep-snowed
mountains. Now they are levelled,
dissolved, as simply as you would
defrost a fridge. I saw water flowing,
saw ice break in blocks from the rock face,
it all fell into the valley, turning
liquid, turning to valley, turning to nothing.

Only yesterday I worshipped mountains.
I bought picture postcards, sent them
to myself at home, to remind me of
the work of destruction I was doing here,
I thawed out Greenland just by gazing at it,
I melted the glaciers while flying over them
in deep devotion. Nothing we wish for is

impossible, as the saying goes, and where there’s a will
there’s a way to render the thin air still
serviceable, to conquer the terrible,
the most terrible of all,
quite simply, as if, asleep in your armchair,
you were only dreaming of a long-haul flight.


“Kloppitz/Kłopot nad Odrą” from Grund zu Schafen (Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt 2004)
“And tended snow in my warm hands” from Nimbus (Suhrkamp 2020)