Robert Schumann
Riding School
Air

By Gisela Hemau

Translation Esther N. Elstun

Robert Schumann

The sky
orphaned in A Minor.

From the pieces
of yore
nothing remains but the sound of footsteps
that take him away from himself,
down the embankment
where the riverbed
is his bed,

and he watches
the water
dissolving him
into the aimless
physicality
of his limbs.

 

Riding School

A room carpeted with earth.
Horses walk up, down,
rented by the hour.
Each time the riders
sink into the stillness.

For years the room is preserved
behind the glass.
Everywhere movements left lying.
Even if we could,
we would not pick them up.

Our eyes are used up.
The one who measures time with a rein
says: the shadow of the horses
is for the dead,
and leads us inside.

Air

Strolling girls,
thin as flagpoles,
on a street
that since the war
no longer exists.
Their dresses,
craving bodies,
flutter away
through the wordless
time of their death.

“Air” and “Robert Schumann” from  Abschüssiges Gelände © Königshausen & Neumann 2000, 2nd ed.  “Riding School” from Gisela Hemau, Außer Rufweite, Königshausen & Neumann, 2003.