Translation Rosmarie Waldrop
Picture Postcard To O.M.
I live in a crumbling ruin rough-hewn as if from the middle ages.
On the clotheslines hang bits of slavic cloth,
no hellenism to warm me, here the stoves are fed
with sulfuric coal, no horseshoe, I suppose,
above the threshold, applause brings a grunt
in heathen riot-tones. In compensation there’s no
Eldorado either, no disembodied hum of a thousand
lights, no quotationmarked cramming with notes
on this and that irreplaceable lotophage tincture.
Just a hairy-calved laugh at the screen
opposite or the unending chirp of the tram above the
firewall, the sleepy dozing off toward the unmanufactured.
but now come the romans and drink various
cocktails, and at my hi there give me a nod and the time of day.
though not yours, batjuschka, in your warm fur.
no sicily, a clothesline in berlin …
no sicily, a clothesline in berlin, with a plastic bag on it, as
if thrown down from the upper floor, except that the line is
carefully drawn through the handles. on the right a red light falls
on the fire wall, a young woman tastes her soup, bright interior
wide courtyards outside, above the wall the ghost of a soldier’s
helmet, tilted perspectives and steep blocks, falling facades
all around and a longish woodshed with sloping roof, freshly
dug-up ground, in the windows, like cockroaches, shadows –
people moving, bare winter trees outlined japanese style on the
screens next to the shrapnel holes and the rattling here and
there the order scattered over the night is full of resonance
we watch each other, hardly ever let each other out of reach.
Brownish-red and beige walls …
Brownish-red and beige walls, chimneys, resting in
Underneath, the steady stream-of-distant-noise, as so
lightly ends the day, a broad
Bridge pylon, pitted, the abdomen of a decayed insect
swept aside by a gust of wind.
Outside, the deck of the ramshackle boat, I think,
so under the black flag, the constant
Gliding off, proud dark, and rows of waves lapping
at the quiet Mainz bank, but blindly
Now gulls nearing and veering off, their flash
above the layers and sediments.
All the eternal chitchat …
All the eternal chitchat (skutschnie pesni zemli), night a trembling light in the room,
the casual friends, so indulgent, so much (yakking, fussing) tossing of balls balls, the mouths.
buff. your (invisible) part seems larger now than mine, which I put aside in a thought
by the window crack, in mutual command enthroning slumbering pride.
For all that we quietly left it as it was, the room, with freedom of eyes, fetters of death,
a process, hesitant, trickling through ignorance, of widening winds. until we
start talking of dayafterday, put on clothes and again practice a few gestures and moves.
and look sideways where it returns, unconscious as the warm swarming of bees from the hive.
From Einflüsterungen von seitlich by Hendrik Jackson
© Morpheo Verlag, 2001
All rights reserved
Translations © Rosmarie Waldrop