The silence of plants
A one-sided relationship is developing quite well
between you and me.
I know what a leaf, petal, kernel, cone, and stem are,
and I know what happens to you in April and December.
Though my curiosity is unrequited,
I gladly stoop for some of you,
and for others I crane my neck.
I have names for you:
maple, burdock, liverwort,
eather, juniper, mistletoe, and forget-me-not;
but you have none for me.
After all, we share a common journey.
When traveling together, it’s normal to talk,
exchanging remarks, say, about the weather,
or about the stations flashing past.
We wouldn’t run out of topics, for so much connects us.
The same star keeps us in reach.
We cast shadows according to the same laws
Both of us at least try to know something, each in our own way,
and even in what we don’t know there lies a resemblance.
Just ask and I will explain as best I can:
what it is to see through my eyes,
Why my heart beats
and how come my body is unrooted.
But how to answer questions never made,
and when, on top of that the one who would answer
is such an utter nobody to you?
Undergrowth, shrubbery, meadows, and rushes…
everything I say to you is a monologue,
and it is not you who’s listening.
A conversation with you is necessary and impossible,
urgent in a hurried life
And it’s postponed forever
It’s all in season. I feel made,
I know woman and nail to the ground
Deep root, and I tend in flight
The branch, certain in you, of its harvest.
How the branch grows and what right!
Everything is today in my trunk a single yearning
To live and live: To tend to heaven,
Upright, like the arrow
That is thrown into the cloud. So upright
That your voice has learned the skill
of opening it smiling and flourishing.
I’m shaking your voice. For her I feel
That the warped branch straightens out
And the fruit of my voice grows in the wind.
End and beginning
After each War
Someone has to clean up.
Things won’t straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
So that they can pass
The wagons full of corpses.
Somebody’s got to get
Between the mud, the ashes,
The docks of the sofas,
The glass splinters
and bloody rags.
Someone has to drag a beam
To prop up a wall,
Someone put a glass in the window
And the door on its hinges.
Photogenic it’s not,
And it takes years.
All the cameras are gone already
To another war.
We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
There will begin to be some
To those who are bored.
There will still be those who sometimes
find among bushes
Arguments bitten by rust,
And take them to the garbage heap.
Those who knew
Of what was going here the thing
They will have to leave their place
Those who know little.
And less than little.
And even practically nothing.
On the grass that covers
Causes and consequences
Surely there will be someone lying down,
With a spike between the teeth,
Looking at the clouds.
Of “End and Beginning” 1993