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passing shot
       a version of Kathrin Schmidt’s ‘gültiger laufpass’

              the wood seemed to have timed its end
to a beat, before it faded: receptors
lost all point all touch, passed over
and into a history of groundlessness
               the grass turned away, once or twice
coming close: no stone that did not roll no leaves that did not scatter
for a moment deer were seen as spots
and then no more, so well i too found a space
               into this case a she-wolf ran bellied out
double through the clearing dabbed with light
stranger, greenhorn in fleeting green i thought still as she leaped
up to me, she raised one pouch for me
               you were in the other i learned to feel you through fur
the wood kept after us as we wore fingers to the bone
digging our way far from that bristling muzzle
clasped the she-wolf a last time and cocked her marching orders:
a passing shot at least at the frontier’s next branch

 

 

 

 

speak, deer
        a version of Kathrin Schmidt’s ‘sprechendes rehtier’

a bright day oscillates in the cables overhead,
a bird of prey sails through the quiet.
even the trees hold silent. there’ll be no
bridgehead to beat over the wood’s
dented ridge, muted like this.

instead, a talking deer goes quite
slowly from left to right, moving
its lips barely visibly. a waxen
tone that melts in the sultry air.

noiseless, it holds back. i've stuck
little sticks into it, they mark where we could
sleep, were we young.

 

 

 

 

summer, winter
        a version of Kathrin Schmidt’s ‘ob sommer, ob winter’

gradually the days are stepping back.
they seem to shrink, to flick
between the small cracks in the hours,
and hold up exhausted whenever i
too hold back. they clock
their full twenty-four hours, of which
each is as long as the last,
taken one by one. taken
as one, they accelerate towards a single end.
it does seem odd, that,
until gradually i come to see: not orignals,
but copies hung up on my back! and mirrored
on a day halfway through your life, they pass
pictures of earlier days, for examining,
only now it’s me who’s compared.
on this day, tomorrow has already
taken place as yesterday, no matter
how the names and faces shift, the basics
are the same: daughter
playing mother, mother bidding farewell.
so i carry myself to where
a wayward time is still looking, among
voices stripped of their bark, for its end –
it stands black, and silent,
and from the mirror steps
the first cry.

 

 

 

 

country calling
        a version of Kathrin Schmidt’s ‘landname’

your country’s calling… you were scarcely born
when bursting at the wordseams came watchyourarse,
shakealeg and listenin. in your final
pretty uniform, you waddled in; it fits you with those gaps
for the world where the wind dies-and-flies, until it furls.
capyourself and watchyourse! shakealeg and grab your starry coat.
you still lie naked in the shade, the wordseams sealed overhead.
already your country’s calling, put your clothes straight
on your body, stitched up word for word.
a loose thread shimmers in your country’s colour code.
so in your motley you give it all your heart until your fired up-
ending the years over your head. revel
in the colour of it. slowly, though, it turns out
your soul’s discharged – white – and planting itself
before the rippling shadow the wordseams let drop,
it resounds: watchyourarse! shakealeg and listenin!
(you see it laughing, fluttering, don’t hear a thing.)
wince – and the wordseams’ tongue shoots ahead.
clipped to it are the three great souls, they’re cut up short
and you’re gazing after them as they reach the wordseams, are folded in.
straight out the dream. your country’s calling – coming, so to speak,
undone, and your onetime suit that was so sturdily stitched.
your german’s set off on a cruise to the wordseams centre,
leaving you without. until once more there’s one
of whom you’d say: your country’s calling – you were scarcely born…

 


 

 

 

[Jamie Osborn has published poems, translations and essays in PN Review, Poetry London, Eborakon, and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. A selection of his poems was published in New Poetries VII (Carcanet, 2018). He lives in Norwich.]

Copyright © 2018 by Jamie Osborn, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.



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