Treves, Easter 1041
Calvary, Little Birds
Check for Yourself

Author: Heinrich Detering
Translator: Paul-Henri Campbell


Treves, Easter 1041

no they have not come for the procession
not to venerate the holy man
not at all have they come for they lie
here as always

they do not desire his blessing or his
robes blankets gems they don’t give a damn
about the money that he holds out to them as
they raise their heads

when they whack the bishop and his minions
out of their saddles toss the coins aside
assault the horses jumping at them with fists
the horses

strangled torn chewing their flesh drinking
their blood the raw sacrament of beasts
the only ones who still do not understand
bleeding to death


Calvary, Little Birds

of dust and mud he had made little birds
that flew across the road upon his command
all had seen it (a generation ago)

his footfall was so gentle that as he stepped out
from the shore onto the lake he did not leave
the slightest trace on the water everyone saw it

when a friend died he called him up
out of the earth upon that command he returned as though
gravity itself pulled him upwards some saw it

like now when all see him there on the road
caving under the weight of a wooden beam
forcing him down on the ground sweating and bleeding

a beam upon which he soon will be hung to die
and all of them see birds coming the birds
the hungry little birds



when Adam named each creature
he ruled the world escaped fear
and forgot his own expiration

when Adam named each creature
none of them understood a word indeed
it seemed they were not even listening

when Adam named each creature
he banished himself with each word
into a language that was of no concern to them

when Adam named each creature
they barked bellowed warbled on
and simply trudged darted sailed away

to dark mysteries and to
mute depths to
mute depths



the border ran right through our car
in the woods between Sweden and Norway
when we had lost our way when we
came to a halt at the border post in the underwood

ruckus hooting on the backseat
in the woods between Sweden and Norway
the joy that a line ran between us

an utterly invisible line



when they chase doves around

in the parking lot in the schoolyard
at the bus stop

when their shouting sounds as if
they were mimicking gunshots

when they grow in strength because the
doves are fleeing from them

then they are evil

Check for Yourself

after I was born mother counted
each one of my toes and fingers
and then calmly leaned back into the pillows

after she had told me that again
yesterday on the phone I sat still for a moment
then I counted and checked one more time and

leaned back into my arm chair everything
indeed was still there


From Heinrich Detering, Wundertiere. Gedichte.  (Of Beasts and Miracles.  Poems.)  Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2015.