mute till a minute ago
winter is so pure and simple, hung out

Author: Kathrin Schmidt
Translator: Sue Vickerman



laundered by the tank’s foul flow
the reed stands tall, as if to get ahead
out of the slime. strut by strut
wading birds disrupt the gloss
of its surface. brackish air, my lung linctus
causing bad breath, hot sweats,
loosened mucus. blood lurks
under the dermis. i love this landscape,
upholding the sky on its waterlogged shoulders.




and the buzzard let go the berries
he’d been carrying under his wings. he soared
over the village church whose shadow
spanned the common. a little girl
jumped around the square, stick legs
tap-dancing the split-second
timing in which he would act, her plaits,
interspersed with snatched breaths, ratatating
rapid raps on his axillae, our eyes
not quick enough to take in the attack. moments passed
till we finally grasped the fact it might be our daughter.  



mute till a minute ago 

 in a slosh of afterbirth-lather,
infant market leaders at last find
their voice: in stutters erupting from the tongue,
a billy-goat’s bellow escaping the foster-father,
surrogate mum clocked back to zero.
while some merely marvel at the linen, its
dovetailed wingtucked folds, how it keeps up the tone
in the cupboard, others are set on the glittering prospect
of future prosperity. of market leadership.
of how, above the streets, girly pinnies
will go on fluttering, ever merry, while hardened
dealers deal in bellies, mute till a minute ago.



winter is so pure and simple, hung out  

like a nappy. come on,
let’s go carve our shadows into it,
cut it up for lunch on this
frosty day! it all looks so intact.
from the junk-mail pile pensioners
smile, worldly-wise; a young athlete
drops right into my coffee-cup
after a corkscrew dive. i give him five points,
he doesn’t get a penalty.
his medal clinks naively.
let’s get down to it –
the nitty-gritty!
you say zilch. you make crumbs.
you slither a knife
through the butter.
you pick a seed
off my breast.
you don’t penetrate my ink-daubed crumby mouth.
you dont make me bleed.
so pure and simple are we, in the snow.



 “faulwasser”:  waschplatz der kühlen dinge, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2018
“verspielt”: Blinde Bienen, Gedichte, Kathrin Schmidt, Kiepenhauer & Witsch Verlag 2010
“eben noch stumm”:  go-in der belladonnen, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2000
“so simpel hängt der winter herab”: Ein Engel Fliegt durch die Tapetenfabrik, Neues Leben Verlag,  Berlin, GDR 1987