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No Delicacies


by Ingeborg Bachmann, translated by Margitt Lehbert

Nothing pleases me anymore.

Should I
dress up a metaphor
with an almond blossom?
crucify syntax
on a light effect?
Who would rack their brains
over such superfluous things--

I have learned an understanding
with the words
that exist
(for the lowest class)

hunger
        disgrace
                tears
and
                        darkness

With the uncleansed sob,
with despair
(and one day despair will drive me to despair)
in the face of all this misery
the number of sick, the cost of living,
I will manage.

I don't neglect writing,
I neglect myself.
The others
Lord knows
can use words to get by.
I am not my assistant.

Should I
take thought captive, march it
to an illuminated sentence cell?
feed eye and ear
with the choicest word morsels?
research the libido of a vowel,
calculate the collector's value of our consonants?

With this head crushed by hail,
with writer's cramp in this hand,
under the pressure of three hundred nights,
must I
tear the paper,
wipe away the instigated word-operas,
thereby destroying: I you and he she it

we you?

(Should really. The others should.)

My part, let it be lost.

January 1, 2000 in Poems | Permalink