Through with the rose for the day on which everyone is asking about thorns Poem by Nora-Eugenie Gomringer

Through with the rose for the day on which everyone is asking about thorns

On sweetly-scented days on which rain sits on all the benches
and a pensioner rails at the rough manners of youth
-for the rain is young and kicks the benches with feet of water-
on heavy, misty days, days like this in fact,
the garden is a refuge of desire,
of snails and worms,
of dandelions,
of the greatness of roses,
of majesty and green.
I sit and walk sometimes,
it is a dance step rather than a pioneering one,
I don't get there, in fact I even lose my way.
I tread on the toes of my tree.
My tender shoe attempts a pattern, tries to draw something permanent,
the rain will come and wash memory away.
I will wash myself away, I will gurgle under the road, I will
twist and turn on corners bubble on to the surface,
I will climb up walls and down again.
My hands play in the hair of the ferns
and finger what's tender and gone.
I think to myself how light and strange the places are where we wander
and do not live at all.
I lick the rose's throat, its slender neck, and its wide stole lets me
stay for a while in the shade.
The thorn, the small Saracen, is swollen with jealousy. His sword is old and my
desire very young. The bright lady lets me take a leaf from her breast,
a petal sail, a miniature wind-filled canvas, that I stroke over my lips and fingertips
so that I, like a worshipper, silly boy, quiet as a mouse, can lie before her and like
someone who may only speak rose-words.
My lady has laid her heart on my tongue with a kiss.
On days like this one. In nights like that
I renounce the scent and take myself off to deceive her
at the hands and mouths of other shrubs.
I bite into tomatoes, celebrating the red of their fullness.
My suspicion swings to and fro,
the garden murmurs. I've been discovered,
revealed as a larva tearing a leaf.
The ant comes to see about me.
The loyal midwife takes me down.
Sometimes I'm a shell that's been abandoned by a snail.
I lie as a silent memory at the edge and grasses grow into me
and birds echo.
My walls, winding and wounded, tremble as though they're about to collapse.
Not a thought wasted on all the fun and parties.
They ask about thorns, the ungrateful things.
For just this very day, I say, I'm through with the rose.

translated by Catherine Hales

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