On the way home

Ten minutes from home
we discovered ourselves in different world.
There, Bobrowski stood on a ladder, beating
at the roof of his nebulous shack and shaking
his head when we asked directions
ahead of our feet. On the mermaid-green
hills an afternoon lay, who had passed
away beautifully from happiness possibly.

Even if they exist, those parallel universes,
it means you cannot miss the same turnoff
twice. This time, neither Bobrowski knew
the way, didn’t even live there,
and we must have been the ones who
held a measly moth-eaten firmament
of glittering paperboard in our frozen fingers,
you at the one gable, me at the other.

Light syphers out from the garden one way,
where two and their shadows go talking,
morphing into a third without shadows,
and what they might have said comes like smoke
from their mouths above the snow. The old man
spat out nails, bows across the ridge: This way
you can disappear, and we, figures told
by the hero in a comedy, we followed.

Sylvia Geist
Translated from the German by Charl-Pierre Naudé