Is this how I am learning to die? Watching sky’s bombardment
digging more defensive trenches around the house, each step
treacherous, slipping on clay, on the materials of the body,
and more lives are unravelling to the north by drowning.
I go down to collect plastic, the wheels have fallen off the sea,
I stand under the eaves of Women’s Cave and apologise,
I told Uncle Mark I would never enter, spume throws snowballs,
a streamlined Pied Cormorant rows low over black and white.
Refusing to watch the news, avoiding any visceral excitement
from explosions feeding the sublime’s appetite for violence.
A glance found a burnt tank that manufactured flaming bodies,
barbarians are coming, again and again for poets to write elegies.
I thought of Nelly Sachs and her poetry of the holocaust.
Or did this earth,
which lets no-one leave unloved,
send a bird, a sign through the air
reminding your soul that it convulsed
in agony from the scorched body?
from ‘If only I knew’ (Wenn ich nur wüßte). My loose translation.