CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Lothar Quinkenstein
GATHERING
Translated from German by Raluca Cernahoschi
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Lothar Quinkenstein
Lothar Quinkenstein
The Feather


Over roof ridges and eaves,
it floats down into your yard.
One sense instantly perceives,
and you're already on guard.

See it sinking, see it rising,
circling, gliding here and yon.
Almost seems to tell you something,
almost seems to be a sign.

Crooked cracks a window score,
and the plaster has a boil,
for the flat on the last floor
has been empty for a while.

Further downward stunted flowers
wilt and bend on tired stocks,
of bread and cake crumbs daily showers
fall from a checkered table cloth.

Nails and hooks and cable strands
dangle black and tapewormlong,
and an odd system of rods
also mixes in the throng.

There, a lidded pot contains
someone's lunch, set out to chill.
Next to it, a sack of grains
flutters loosely, without fill.

Patient, pliable, a wire
that's been here as long as rocks,
now hangs smugly, out for hire,
sometimes with a pair of socks.

First-floor curtains in a kitchen,
stained in gray by Sunday's meal,
and the lovey-dovey pigeons
peppering the window sill.

Tell me if I understand you,
read your sign beyond a doubt:
Do you write upon the air
what I see day in, day out?

Or was this silent upward flight
fancied too boldly and too loft?
Is your message so entwined
as to lead me fully off?

Feather, feather, ever agile,
gone's, alas, the happy swish —
you're now swimming in a puddle
over by the kitty dish.



Before Easter

                                                       If I ever had an inspiration,
                                                       I had one then.

                                                                                         (Johnny Cash)

Belambed
after days at the desk
you go out
nothing
is finished the light
evinces as always.

A first
thread of green embroiders
the park you stand
under the trees the swan
displays how it's done:
dunk the beak in the reflection
get full that way.

You bed
the water the swan
on the palm of your hand support them
on bones and railing
the horses at the fence
nod in encouragement:
only look closer a beetle
scuttles on the plaster toe
Aeternitas now
keep a straight face or else everything
goes to the dogs.

                                                       Wiepersdorf, the day before departure,
                                                                                                             March 2007




gathering


star on
gallows in entryway
debates about mother's milk

your paper
yearning your helpless errand
to the yard of rabbi Akiba Eger

in the evening before it
people and almost
a dozen

flames passed
from wick to wick

fluttering blooms
glances past

shouldered bags
with bathing things

                                                       Poznan, April



Smigiel, All Saints' Day


or
how two men,
who were shoveling rubble onto a trailer,
showed us the way to the old cemetery
or how the sun trickled through the clouds
when we found the next event
in the series Lyrical Autumn
announced on the weathered church door
or
how the plastic bag rustled
caught in the elder branches
or
how yellow and gleaming the maple leaves
lay in the grass and on the gravestone shards
or
how we explained to each other
why the moss only grows in the letters
while the surface remains blank
or
how we felt the moss with our fingers
because we couldn't read the writing
or
and thus I will flee their courts
and grow a long beard
of gray hairs
or
Przyjecie Zydów do Polski
or
Put up here for the night!
or
my mother came from Lithuania,
my father came from Poland

or
I most enjoyed the poetry of Mickiewicz
or
vos veln mir makhen ven meshiakh vert kumen?
or
there has to be someone in the world
who is as old as the world
or
Yossel, fils de Yossel Rakover de Tarnopol, parle à Dieu

or

how our feet got wet
from the first snow on the withered grass

how we sat down by the window in the cafe
looked at the dawning market square
warmed our hands on our cups

after the visit to the old cemetery in Smigiel.



Rusalka, december


fishermen on snow-covered ice
a lull in the air majuscules at the end
of lines left by footprints drop
their artificial perpendiculars

growing sound in the midst of
rejected semicolons breathes
moans from the deep
announces
a phenomenal catch

gurgled sighed out
under the axes the buckets
the haul has
whispered itself away to the shore into the reeds

take clouds and shrubbery
into your own hands
roll yourself a winter word to
light on harsh
roads your way home



afternoon with friends


a boy sees
in the mirror a girl
looks out the window nibbles
on the edge of a glass the other
boy snaps the second
girl while reading she looks
up from the pages her breath
spins a pattern of smoke
© Copyright  Lothar Quinkenstein
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