Ode to muesli
The expanding nature of the task
Not even an implosion
Every morning (unplugged)
Every morning (plugged)
The embrace

By Matthias Politycki

Translation Margaret May

 

Ode to muesli
Lyrical jingles: a crash course

Impossible
to write a poem on muesli,
on that crisp-baked crunch-fun
of heaped-up whole-grain happiness,
let alone everything else –
besides honey, sea salt, sunflower oil,
cane sugar, Rice Krispies, palm oil and glucose syrup –
everything else you’d need to add for further refinement:

Grated Easter bunnies (may contain traces of silver foil),
shredded hazel (may contain traces of nuts),
coconut opiate or cherry blossom liquorice,
langues de chat or pastry whirls,
most of all black and red problemberries
or melon sashimi with origami
or –

Incredible, when all of this,
mingled with the energy of chaste chilled milk,
is presented to your palate, when delicate summer meadow scent
explodes in velvety aromas, filling both cheeks
with charming freshness,
ending elegantly in a long, slow, sweet and sour slide
: a poem

on muesli is impossible to write.
Either you can taste it
or, well, you can’t.

 

The expanding nature of the task

I. Insight

To walk barefoot through the flat on the first sunny day of spring
because it’s so nice at last to feel
wooden floorboards, smooth and firm, under your soles again, and
suddenly to notice that they’re still
too cold and you’d do better to
put on your shoes again and wait
until spring really arrives
: tough

II. Foresight

To sit with a freshly pulled pint in front of you
in a group of thirsty friends
who have all grabbed their glasses, ready
to drink themselves into this evening,
and then to notice that one person in the group
hasn’t ordered yet and that consequently
you have to put your glasses down again
: tough

III. Oversight

To sit with a freshly pulled pint in front of you
in a group of silent friends who
already seem to be toying with the idea
of getting off home at a suitable opportunity,
and then to notice that no one else
has ordered with you and that consequently
you have to drain your glass in a single draught
: tough

IV: Hindsight

To walk barefoot through the flat on a late summer day
because it’s still nice to feel smooth, firm floorboards
beneath your bare skin, and
suddenly to notice that they’re already
too cold and that from now on you’d do better to start wearing shoes again
and wait, wait to see
if there’ll be another spring next year
: tough

 

Not even an implosion

Needing to sneeze
properly, with a dramatic run-up
from deep down, below, within,
(and vain fumbling
for a handkerchief).

The eyes narrow, stretched to slits.
The mouth opens of its own accord.
all the rest is hunched-up, rapt awaiting –
and then? Unable to sneeze.

Seldom such a let-down
from so deep down, below, within,
as in this moment.

 

Every morning (unplugged)

1.
Every morning
for more than fifty years now
I’m in the habit, as soon as I’m awake
(not yet quite fully awake,
only half, but that’s enough),
I’ve got into the habit of brooding
about this and that, and especially
the other

Whereupon
for more than fifty years now,
I get into such a lousy mood
that then I really do wake up
and feel really annoyed
that I’ve woken up at all,

and finally even start wondering
whether in the end it wouldn’t make more sense
to be done with the whole business of waking, whether half or fully,
and simply stay in bed.

II.
To be fair, in reality
things go a bit differently, especially if
you’re lying beside me and wake up with me, yes,
then usually things go so very differently,
that I’d rather not get up at all
because from then on, whatever happens, from then on the day
can only go steeply downhill.

III.
But bloody hell, it’s been ages since you lay beside me,
not yesterday, not today, and certainly not tomorrow,
which really does get me brooding
about this and that, and of course especially
the other

So much so that now I really will
just stay lying here in bed and imagine
that you’re next to me, that in the end
perhaps I might even –

IV.
oh nonsense, who am I kidding,
at some point one should be old enough
to look facts in the face! Well, all right then,
now I’ll just pretend I’m
not properly awake yet, only half,
then we’ll take it from there.

 

Every morning (plugged)

I.
Every morning
for more than fourteen years now
we start to rustle
as soon as we have woken
(not quite fully awake,
only half, you know),
we rustle around in our duvet hide-out,
that rather important tug and pull

But then, all the same,
for more than fourteen years now
your arm reaches resolutely over to me
and your hand places itself
on some part of me –
whether arm, shoulder, hip,
whatever it can find.

It rests there, protecting me, until
that spot starts to feel quite warm
and, I suppose,
this hand of yours
feels a little warmer too.

So warm and warmer, until finally,
in the end it’s almost unbearable,
then we are both awake,
properly awake, you know, and
you draw your hand back,
startled –
for more than fourteen years now,
every morning.

II.
Today it was the same, I was about to
fall asleep again, quite soundly and happily.
But then all of a sudden my heart started pounding
so violently that I had to get up,

to find a place where I could
note this down for you after all,
very quietly, without waking you,

but you did,
of course,
you did notice.

 

The embrace

She lay there on a sofa in the furthest room,
quite close to that day’s northern light
with nothing else around her
apart from bouquets and
books piled high

Buried, though it was summer,
up to her chin beneath the blanket
and all the afternoon’s late sun,
she slept there, and a fat book
slept with her, open

I stepped through the doorway and she,
even before she had grasped
she was no longer reading or dreaming,
she flung, resolved on the embrace,
without a word flung both arms high

with such a shining look that I
from that moment could no longer fathom
how we can wish in such a heartfelt way
to embrace another and yet must in the end, at some point,
go down into the dark grave alone

Indescribable, how great the happiness at that time –
indescribable, how great the fright at such great happiness

 

Die Sekunden danach: 88 Gedichte. Hoffman und Campe, Hamburg, 2009.