Title: Sport 40: 2012

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 40: 2012

Michael Krüger

page 167

Michael Krüger

Fair Copy

We reconstructed my childhood
with unremarkable things.
A pine cone, bread crumbs,
keys, a black-veined stone,
anything to hand and portable.
Just that things have a tendency
o act as they see fit,
and the course I wanted to steer
keeps veering forward and back.
I can see what I no longer am,
but I cannot see me.
An apple rolls sadly from the table
and breaks as words break
when one no longer uses them.
Leave it to the birds to
fair-copy this scrawl, on them
one can rely.

page 168

Tübingen, in January

for Georg Braungart

The sky snowless,
in the rigging of the vines
the day turns to light.
Dog-tired, last year’s wood
goes to work before me.
How wasted, the time,
how swollen, the language.
It may seem strange to you,
but even crows have a heart.
And that, in a few words, is
the true story of my life.

About Shadows

I knew the good and the bad kinds of shadow,
the cramped shadow of dreams in which theologians
argue about split hairs, and the shadows
cast by fish and hurrying flies.
My grandfather mixed shadow in with the grain,
so that something not in vain would grow and
the chaff would not be separated from the wheat.
And once I saw the shadows of birds
that hung on the stones like tufts of wool on a bush.
From today even my sleep casts a shadow
into a world growing ever more dim.

page 169

Water Skaters

The sky is liquid granite,
and you are startled when birds
emerge from the mass
and gliding in great arcs
trace their circles round you.
The flawlessness confounds you.

I am rooted to this river bank,
watching fishes as they leap,
blithely, from the water.
In an hour all will be dark.
Now I see the water skaters
staring into the ink-black depths.

They stand on the surface like microscopes,
motionless, in an hour they will be dead.

The Spider

Outside the house the children run
riot, as if there were only
friend or foe. I think
of a groundless piety
namenable to prayer.
In a corner of the room a spider
toils at nature’s fair copy.
When it has spanned its web
childhood will come to an end.

page 170

Late September


Heavy clouds in a September sky
and the ground reaches to take them in,
the houses straighten up, the sycamore,
heavy with night, opens its hands,
and the brackish stream, only now
dragging its feet like a prisoner,
sings to itself in the morning.


Then, quiet, and time is inside me
and dreams the dreams of the dead,
without a care for the life that runs aground.


So it was that the truth found its way
into my house by mistake, erased the scribble,
and eased the pain for a precious hour or more,
then settled on the heap of wreckage
that night had left to me.


Only the cats refuse to be fooled.
They pad in and out as if the house,
too, stood in ruins.

page 171

Last Train

A man came slowly towards me,
hat over his forehead,
hand shading his eyes,
an off-duty poet.
On his T-shirt the words:
I speak the language of Paradise.
He walked right through me
and took the last train,
the one meant for me.
No idea, what would have
become of me. Of the truth
we know only the lousy gist.

Anonymous Letter

Someone sends me photos,
they show us, him and me.
And a story that unfolds,
ne I don’t understand,
as though I stood accused
in some proceedings long-past.
A story plucked from the history
of misery that has a point to make:
I did not want to be who I was
and do not want to be who I am.
In the background a girl,
stick-thin and blonde, with scabs
on her angular knees, staring
straight into the sky, not
into her vanishing life.

page 172

After the Rain

A dog drags a quivering life
across the street, a kid carries his god
in a plastic bag inside his jacket,
the crows want to be theologians once again.
The world will change only after the rain.
The river is ploughing towards me,
shouting so loud that I’ll go under.
A storm, they say, is brewing in the books.
We will read them after the rain,
if there is to be any after-the-rain.

About Childhood

When childhood finished
wonder came to an end.
I stood, surely only yesterday,
at the field’s edge, where poppy
and camomile told me fairy-tales,
staring with my hand over my eyes
after the setting sun.
In the lime tree, older than war
and older than peace,
hung the Bürgermeister, listening,
head down, to the bees.
He had not meant it to be like this.

From Ins Reine © Suhrkamp Verlag, 2010. Except ‘Crow-biter’ and ‘Wooden House’ © Michael Krüger, 2012. English translations © Karen Leeder, 2012.
page 173

Wooden House

for Alfred Kolleritsch

You must stand with your back
against the wall in the evening light.
Then you will see the storm
announce its approach in the crown
of the lime. The frantic blackbirds,
as if this were the work of old age.
We will be measured by how often
we have not told the truth, though
the word was warm on the tip of the tongue.
One glance at the clouds chasing past
and the gulf between the heavenly
and the earthly worlds is clear.
Your back against the warmth of wood,
and then the disappearing sun.


Crows, says a man
who has lived through the war,
should be cooked only
on pine wood,
to absorb the poisons.
And eaten with sorrel,
which livestock won’t touch.
Incomprehensible the order
of the world in peacetime.
We sit in the open, marvelling
at the setting sun.
The crows in the pines
have the last word.