Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The poem 'Fuut' by Eva Gerlach in translation


J., I saw your father on the bridge
by the supermarket. Shopping bag next to his shoes
that shimmered in the light of almost March.

He stood beneath white hair, no hat, bending
forwards to look down at the water where
a grebe had dived and you saw how his gaze
travelled on to the spot where according to
his gauging it the grebe would reappear
and how he gave a smile when it was so.

A diving grebe swims underwater like
a snake so smooth and lightning-fast, seizing
the fish then surfacing. Does not look back
to where its dive began but swims, the fish
whole in its throat, on to the plunge ahead.

Your father gave a nod and then walked on.
He was less young than in some of the photos but
just as in those wore his heart on his face,
simply a skin that anyone may see,

eternity in his hand and the hem of his coat
surged and fell with his steps. Cautiously
down off the bridge. J., ‘to be two birds’ – the
gods that in former times once
roamed the earth, were they alive? as truly as only
in thoughts, where all things reside.

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