Periodic Song (excerpt)

Author: Sylvia Geist
Translator: Catherine Hales


not discovered
but foretold somehow (de humore acido…) how solitary
the meerschaum

shatters. vapour!
letterpress metal sacrificed melting (bending) down skimming the
puddle left

in water
hardness something else. leaving us with the crystalline
beauty of

a word
its syllables mining meaning making it matter. crazily
sparking chippings


her hundred-year-laugh
when she read the day’s reports from my
hand. my yellow sweat. autumn whispering

in the
courtyard and those minus multiplications giving me hell
why plus? at night incremental growth

hurting the
bones want to show she laughed. that’s why.
I still believed in father’s wrath

and MGM
talking bushes endlessly burning without smoke but not
her constantly saying it’s happening now


for ever.
for ever the horror by day the night-time
years of children the growing pains

in autumn
the minus of bushes bearing fruit for ever
and the calorific value of the

bones of
dried fruit consumed in sweetness and meal – all
that’s swallowed completely for ever too

by the
courtyard and the wrath-hand’s laughter and this cinnabar’s
sweating – its giving up – its red.


Originals © Sylvia Geist
Translations © Catherine Hales