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Peter Huchel

Eastern River

Do not look for the stones
in water above the mud,
the boat is gone.
No longer with nets and baskets
the river is dotted.
The sun wick,
the marsh marigold flickered out in rain.

Only the willow still bears witness,
in its roots
the secrets of tramps lie hidden,
their paltry treasures,
a rusty fishhook,
a bottle full of sand,
a tine with no bottom,
in which to preserve
conversations long forgotten.

On the boughs,
empty nests of the penduline titmice,

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Meeting

For Michael Hamburger

Barn owl
daughter of snow,
subject to the night wind,

yet taking root
with her talons
in the rotten scab of walls,

beak face
with round eyes,
heart-rigid mask
of feathers a white fire
that touches neither time nor space.

Coldly the wind blows
against the old homestead,
in the yard pale folk,
sledges, baggage, lamps covered with snow,

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Melpomene

The forest bitter, spiky,
no shore breeze, no foothills,
the grass grows matted, death will come
with horses' hooves, endlessly
over the steppes' mounds, we went back,
searching the sky for the fort
that could not be razed.

The villages hostile,
the cottages cleared out in haste,
smoked skin on the attic beams,
snare netting, bone amulets.
All over the country an evil reverence,
animals' heads in the mist, divination
by willow wands.

Later, up in the North,
stag-eyed men
rushed by on horseback.
We buried the dead.

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