from Out of the Dust

Klaus Merz


Clouds roll
adamantly by and light
rain falls, falls.

One woman pours
milk, the other
combs her hair—for
three hundred years:

Not life, said
Malraux, but the statues,
will be our witnesses.

The Brünner Girls

Snipped out of the albums,
childhood scattered
on the living room table.
The constantly-fading-away
accompanies the unforgotten.

Preserved in Ivan Blatny's
late poems, we drive
out to the cemetery with him.
The Brünner girls wave;
we greet them back.

To bow down to melancholia
and become lightened on the way.

Wiepersdorf, later


The wheel hums quietly across the plain,
glides along the shadow axis
of the warrior king. Large
passageways, small crowns. Larks
and falcons are in the air, bow
and arrow. Day's paleness sinks
behind the satellite's village, people
stand in front of houses that streak past.
Later on the edge, the carcass
of a rabbit still fleeing. Wind
and cloud roll off and away.
In the front yard, the dwarf
reaches for his shovel and digs
a hole in the Marchigian sand
for August Ziekert, forest ranger, off-duty.
Goes by the name Wolf. He freed grandmother
and child from that animal belly. The flagstones
of the Wiepersdorf boulevards
are now covered in asphalt.


Everywhere the mushrooms are ready.
A glut, say the arriving Swiss,
and reap admonishment
from the Saxon forest ranger.
In autumn it withstands
little deviation—but we also
could never have expected, within
this youngest millennium, that your
most-loved daughter would return
to you out of the war.
In between you were gifted
serenities and a drum
in the ear which no one
touches, thank God.


The waxing and waning light,
the wandering cloud-shadows,
the dizzying wind.
Once again, day plays a butterfly
I know into my hands, dragonflies
hunt over the abandoned
nuclear-warhead warehouse in the pine forest,
the duck squadron takes off.
Every blink an image. The hypo-
glycemic light drives the sweat
from my skin. With cold fingers
I record the nail-
biting event.


We climb the old
processional route, uphill—
the cows graze, hornless
and still. Suddenly the brown one
raises her head, the bells chime.
Transformation! A Turkish couple
step out of the pines: "Hoi!"
greets the man.  His wife
lowers her eyes. (At this time
in Beromünster the savior
is being raised up into the
rafters.) It's burning behind the forest—
in his baseball cap and his apron,
the Sunday chef tends his
sausages, sneezes: "Help me God!"
calls his guest. A motorbike
chainsaws birdsong.
Traffic jam at the Gotthard Pass,
the radio advises. On the Wyna,
a bottled message rushes
downriver towards the Rhine:
"By Whitsun your heads
should be navigable!"
the Lord promises.

translated from the German by Marc Vincenz