(after the German of Rainer Maria Rilke)
We have no knowledge of his ancient brow
where pippins ripen. Yet his torso gleams,
You hear the sound of carols from afar.
Bright bulbs and tinsel, cinnamon and cloves.
Beyond a hill of snow you see a star.
Without the moon or stars to guide his sight,
without a glint from shanties down below,
he rested on the foggy hill that night,
and begged the heavens for a tiny glow.
Yes, pretty soon now they’ll be at your door.
They’ve orders and a warrant after all.
It doesn’t matter. You’ll be on the floor,
your wife and children having watched you fall.
Here is a river with a little boat
moored beside its bank. The boat's the colour
of oranges in the south of Greece, all bloody
and ripe with sweetness, while the bank's the colour
Milk curdles in her jar,
mould forms on her black bread.
She’s come so very far,
but her blue Polish eyes
(after the German of Georg Trakl)
The brown village. A darkness often treads
Along the walls that stand in autumn. Mock-
I rise at the break of dawn,
still dreaming, half awake,
wondering whether I’m gone;
but, the sun on the lake,
The father looks up to the sky or ceiling
(beyond the grey scale of the photograph)
with his son wrapped inside his cradling arms.
An orderly obscures the boy’s midsection,