For Karl-Heinz Ströhle (1957-2016)

When he breaks off within me,

When he goes to splinters, piercing me

With every particle, when he dissolves in me,

Deluges me, when he blazes and burns me,

What is left of me then? What am I

Without his knee, without the hairless, soft

Nape of his neck, the vivid skin of his hands, the blue

Of his eyes? There a man greets and goes, an

Other writes and laughs, a third one

Implores: Follow me. I’ll make firewood for

Your winter. The quince trees are mute now,

On the bird feeder hangs the woodpecker. I know

That time is thin. We fatten up our days

With young venison and stuffed geese,

With chocolate cookies and Christmas wreaths. 

A fourth man sits in silence, a fifth one

Shows he’ll stay, but he desires what he

Thinks is delight: wine, women and loud

Warbling

When he breaks off within me,

When he goes to splinters, piercing me

With every particle, when he dissolves within me,

Deluges me, when he blazes and burns me,

What is left of me then? What am I

Without his voice, his dusky, abrupt

Laughter, without his pet names, his broad

Mouth? There’s the woman. Where she lies, there’s

Nothing left. Where she waits, everyone’s

Already gone. Where she survives, the heart

Beats are numbered. It is high time.

The sky hangs low. The quince trees are

Trimmed. The woodpecker’s flown off.

No morning will ever again get so close to me,

Nor any rosy light. The woman inside me is gone,

She’s moved on, she’s gathering

Eternities, quick glimpses. Silent

Sentences

Translated by Geoffrey C. Howes. Originally published under “Am Abgrund und im Himmel zuhause” by Haymon, Innsbruck 2018.