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Poetry

when speech left me

By Maja Haderlap
Translated from German by Tess Lewis

perhaps i was just drinking coffee
or opening the newspaper.
perhaps i was drawing the curtains
or looking out onto the street when speech
left me. still, i thought, what a rattling
from deep in the wall,
what a clattering in this room.
no windowpanes shattered,
no chairs toppled in the kitchen.
the names on street signs
vanished leaving only the ashes of letters.
a tanker filled with words retreated
above the houses, massive, silent,
my swollen tongue twitched
in my dry mouth.
i escaped from the city,
took refuge behind the border.
no letters arrived and no answers
were sent. a hole gaped
where i once was.
where i am now, my shadow
runs to seed.

 

From langer transit © Maja Haderlap 2015. By arrangement with the publisher. Translation © 2016  by Tess Lewis. All rights reserved. 

English

perhaps i was just drinking coffee
or opening the newspaper.
perhaps i was drawing the curtains
or looking out onto the street when speech
left me. still, i thought, what a rattling
from deep in the wall,
what a clattering in this room.
no windowpanes shattered,
no chairs toppled in the kitchen.
the names on street signs
vanished leaving only the ashes of letters.
a tanker filled with words retreated
above the houses, massive, silent,
my swollen tongue twitched
in my dry mouth.
i escaped from the city,
took refuge behind the border.
no letters arrived and no answers
were sent. a hole gaped
where i once was.
where i am now, my shadow
runs to seed.

 

From langer transit © Maja Haderlap 2015. By arrangement with the publisher. Translation © 2016  by Tess Lewis. All rights reserved. 

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