Listen to the rain
counting out your works and days
on its abacus.
How neatly it plots
each hour. How precise it is!
Set the clock by it,
there is still time. Rain
will leave you tender margins
to scrawl your name in.
A MYRIAD SHARDS
In the land of a myriad shards
there is a word that glistens.
It is the plain tongue explaining
plainness to itself,
slowly, deliberately, as fully as it can.
But what it loves, it loves: it loves
soft moon, hard stars,
the great green splayed nature of a thing
that can be told like this,
in this voice, among shards, however many,
however myriad, under however many hard stars.
On the day I died
they made it perfectly clear
that I had not died.
Nobody had died.
It was there in the records
that we had not died.
It was consoling.
We celebrated the fact,
or would have done so
had we been alive.
from the Hungarian of Anna Szabó
MY SON’S FIRST PHOTOGRAPH
Unter den Linden, the even light aslant
My little boy and I are in the street,
He seeing, feeling, sniffing and touching the skin
Of the city – it is its bones I’ve come to greet.
The dead live here. They’re simply everywhere
Their monuments pulse through the Berlin air,
Beating at the pavement in a dream.
The great wall’s shadow falls across the ground
That you can cross as you would a stream.
A four year old’s awareness is still dim
The blank gaze is too natural to him.
For him no corpse, no wartime episode
But pixels of light on an endless road.
Can I take a picture? I bend down to his height,
And snap he takes a shot of me
A moment and it’s done. Preserved in light.
for Karen Redman
The utter misery of hanging in
when all you need is one shot and it’s past;
the wretchedness of living in your skin
when you could scatter in one silent blast.
You see confusion in the panicked eye
and enter it as if you were a ghost
before you’ve even had a chance to die.
The dreary ocean lapping at your coast
has not yet swallowed you but here you are,
a self unselfing, a mind letting go
its hard-acquired armour, avatar
to a being you once had claims to know.
The sea is dark but here and there the light
catches the waves even at dead of night.