Tuesday 28 January 2014

A poem by Ivan Malinowski from 'Galgenfrist' (short respite)

Still Life

The general leans his cheek against the general’s wife’s
a caress begun in 1908
stares furiously at the dusty palms and spider’s web’s portières
a drop stands motionless in the wind while the house rises measuredly skywards
and black snails invade the garden room
with large white astonished eye they hesitate at first on the threshold
then transform themselves into tears
that roll across the floor in gleaming trails

the night is an ear that yawns itself out of joint
a gurgling in hidden pipes
the one-eyed owl sighs deeply from its perch on the sideboard
under the chaiselongue the moon
catches a ball of combed-off hair a greying fledgling
a matchless kelim (Pirot 1840) arches its back and squeaks like a rat
while the mosquitoes whisper hoarsely about Walt Whitman’s private life

now the ache has found its tooth and the bullet its stiffened chest
the general his life’s his death’s proud Atlantis
it is accomplished
the Cossack Oedipus on his stallion on the plain on the wall
has found his grave the limitation (the fine balance)
only the table linen is still waiting for its rightful apparation
only time its scissors only the eye its gleam only the stones are a strong redeemer

oblivion has forgotten these images and thunder always drifts over
the tongue of daybreak steals off a different way
the garden’s marble doves have perched on the retina
the wrought-iron spears deep in this flesh
Meissen will always be Meissen and the soul immortal
(how long immortality
how long this blind bitter open lens this tower that falls down
so great a loneliness how long)

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