from Waterbook

Dana Ranga

On Friday afternoons widows and their caretakers play hide-and-seek. Nina whispers the names of algae in Polish, her father talks loudly about rays and cunning. Learns image description, looks at Lysmata; she’s cleaning for the lionfish, practicing the tango with a skeleton. Origins don’t count when it’s sex for fun.

Someone’s fiancé calls, “Amore, veni,” and has his picture taken in front of the sharks. Pixels tear his face apart; do we really need to experience this? Gymnothorax funebris breathes and stares.

Pop Art is mainstream, whispers the coral reef; the chorus of caretakers moans, colorblind. The widows came to the rendezvous, a flirt with innocence. It would be unseemly to measure the length of their skirts; all are like maidens in the face of death. Preserve the aquarium, look for a Sisyphus without a burden.

Daughters and sons, expensive exotic fish, silver souls, a smile camouflages their faces. They suck up the ocean and spit it out again and nobody scolds, nobody claps.

Please make your way to the exit, past God and John Dory, the building is closing for the evening. Before the light in the pool goes out and life begins, tonight with a candlelight dinner of bouillabaisse. Who bit off the turtle’s feet? It’s only a mirror of the good, a natural enemy

I am called, I go by the name of, my-name-is. We derive confidence from ordered sequences; lower your forehead.

Strange species, unreceptive to my kind, What-is-your-name. I curl myself tenderly around you

and hear mine. You sway in time to its sound; what am I to you without it? We draw strength from fallacies,

we die in the game and pull gently together in the wrong direction. And then Lysmata, always ready to do a service

which no one ever speaks about. Always ahead of me and retrospectively, his-name-is praises what was and what will be.

Is this mouth not pure? A graveyard for lies and for truth, in the middle of your head and mine, nobody

builds a house nearby. To hold your name in my hands, just once. Your name is like mine, both are uncapitalized     
                                                         hippocampus erectus (minor, maior)

Linda, Thomas, close your eyes. Mourn and eat, because your fear will grow. Noon or midnight, no face

can be read always. We are the resistance, people do not always err when they follow us. Camouflage or signpost, who sets up a light

at the edge of the abyss? Let us pray and let us be interrogated; we know the way. We endure, we breathe, we refuse, we breathe,

we follow the No, we breathe, desire, reject. Soul of legends, arrière-garde of what is achieved, we are blood before it is red.

We resist in the name of applause; when will we be at the center of the picture? For protection and salt, find a name for us. Resist your senses,

curses and enthusing, we connect earth and wind. What have you lost in hope’s hiding places? Sonja, Lisa,

let yourselves be caressed. Close your eyes; they won’t do you any good; in the depths and here, under this blanket. Sing the fear from your bodies

and stay naked. You stand in the light, who is the fairest in all the land? Velvety and cold, unfathomable, mute.

Protecting, mute. Eat, don’t resist, you have confirmed the corollaries of cruelty. Eat and calculate, our belief

is measured in lumens, we live because we know how to die. And we sing: in, out, in, out; little holy ones, visions of symbiotic monks.

When they threw love into the sea, it shattered into plankton and light, it settled on our eyelids. Robbers pulled us up

and then let us fall from their nets. In the world people now cultivate the great oblivion; darkness does not bind
photoblepharon palpebratus
                                                                    (eyelight fish, one-fin flashlightfish)

Devours it all, releases nothing, upjoywards, downjoywards. Ignorance? Forgiveness? There is no for and against,

if we meet then we will have already touched. Who lets himself be regarded? He who gives light, who takes light.

I am watch-out and perhaps-tomorrow, things are given me, I share nothing, and no, it is not you who found me, I fill your hearts, I roar in your eyes, up is down, is left, is right, fingerprints germinate in me, they become, you think, become, remain, become carefree, adapt yourselves, the questioner, I am the wavelength that cannot be heard, remembrance of a soot-hung sky, you have found the highest measure, in me grows what was intended, simultaneously sheltered and threatened, the soul of the mountains and oceans, reflex and bowing, falling to one’s knees and then raising a hand against the child, against the mother, feeling the heartbeat, the hope to finally be sated; they love only me.

She breaks beauty and dreams of borders. Assimilation, a quiet apology. Close or open your eyes.

Who laments? Who hears? Who waits there? Wholly and only, always here and there. Stars shine and see nothing


They asked me, do you still want to go to him; his eyes, coordinates. He said, it was never the way I wanted it to be,

and I said, navigation. He sat straight up and waited, and death waited too, a ship with no lights. A stranger looked at me,

in passing, his shirt was made of sailcloth, I was ship’s rail and rope. The sea, everything and nothing in the mind, doubt in the corners of the mouth.

I thought about screens, projectors, applause; and I went on, slowly. His room, a blurred image, I could not find it

                                                                                               zeus faber
                                                                                                         (John Dory)

Spilled milk, milk for the child, milk against death, milk against repose, warm and white and intolerable, milk ocean, milk against sleep, against calling and the kiss, milk for forgetting and for abandoning, drops like syllables, ma, and always again the jugs, the cups, the nights, the sweetish taste on the tongue, in the ear, how white the skin of the day is on the                                         
petromyzon marinus
                                                                                                         (sea lamprey)

translated from the German by Monika Cassel