Sadness frightens my gob into silence
the trophy sheep
absolute romantic zero
the opposite of seduction

Author: Monika Rinck
Translator: Alistair Noon

sadness frightens my gob into silence

THAT’S where I was gobsmacked, the point at which, if I were someone else,
I’d carry on unflustered without a flash of eyelash,
though in a wardrobe, and not alone but in the company of priests.
among the tracksuit bottoms, towels, gowns and negligées I’d feel
I could say anything, it would emerge from me still fresh,
as if some kind of fertilizer had been used on me.
the priests’ budlike look would find me in the end
as would the lavender sachet thrown in, I’d curtsey at the edge
of the piled-up, ironed clothes, clear the nylons off
into the drawer for socks that as a joke we called
“the gutter of the damned”. in that mall of unfamiliar winterwear,
the bering straits, priests would meet me and since it was summer
undo my straps, as lightly as dragonflies, and teach me a lesson
in fear, as something new that now somehow belonged there,
to a round of applause from the skipful of wrong-size woolies.
now we go over to a wardrobe elsewhere, and a tennis tournament to mark
the gob’s reopening, with speeches, canapés and law students.


the trophy sheep

white-dabbed places to romp in: a well-positioned sheep.
muscles as solid as nylon, in the dark the ribs,
the joint of mutton’s expansion ends in spindly sticks.
the hooves are used for buttons, dildoes, artificial limbs.
tallow rumbles across it, the exterior crinkly with underhair.
here is the sheep, producing surplus value by the minute.
the sheep of the apocalypse, out to become the ubersheep.
the sheep of sharply tuned receivers. the sheep
that points up to the sky, the sheep as an oilwell,
visionary sheep of the future, the sheep of things to come,
made into money, travelling at suicidal speeds.
white cushions worth millions, maximal, numbered,
mouths and marrows in circulation, the trophy sheep.
keep counting: two point two, two
point three, point four million sheep in circulation.
and in the end, exhausted, the sheep of reason blinks.

(with thanks to ms. scho)


absolute romantic zero

christ, caspar david, that was the height of ice:
a cathedral slit into the centre, thawing
down its damp pharynx. halting her breath.
a vertical glacier, the neck of a bottle, and in there
halls and chambers. below: water, black with cold.
blacker than black. colder than cold. the giant hens
are on the march, but only the kernel is visible.
like a coffee bean in motion. don’t let yourself
be fooled: the giant hen is still there
but out of sight. the whole thing’s a disaster.


the opposite of seduction

is the way they dry out but grow imperceptibly – in spite
of mistreatment – still their protest at the progress of time?
for years I’ve been tipping the gunk from the cups – more coffee,
anyone? – into the pots, or they wouldn’t get watered for weeks
at all. slack, woody stalks in what might be earth.
amazing they still grow, or pretend to: they parody life.
and into my back they mutely prop their wobbly swords,
levered out en route between offices. they lean back
in corners, busy with photosynthesis and being dismal.
what seconds ago was cooling the processor, our eight-hour lungs
now use. what plant’s that then? heidi brought it.
dogs have been bred without fur before, they have,
but plants without leaves? I stand in front of this plant
and into the whirr of the computer I say:
“I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.”
and think through the gentle swaying outside, the leaves,
the leaves, moved in formation, among their purple peers,
and this one ugly plant here as a figure of redemption, such that we are all,
all resurrected into an obsolete age in which we neither sow
nor harvest but only abide, in the opposite of seduction. yeah,
they all say: “my turn to bring the peat tomorrow!”
tomorrow comes, and no one brings peat.