Posted by at 10:46 am  Atelier, IN Conversation  Comments Off
Mar 192008

I HEAR that the axe has flowered,

I hear that the place can’t be named,


I hear that the bread which looks at him

heals the hanged man,

the bread baked for him by his wife,


I hear that they call life

our only refuge.


Ich hore, die Axt hat gebluht,

ich hore, der Ort ist nicht nennbar,


Ich hore, das Brot, das ihn ansieht.

heilt den Erhangten,

das Brot,das ihn die Frau buk,


Ich hore, sie nennen das Leben

die einsige Zuflucht.


tr Michael Hamburger 

One life at a time

 Posted by at 10:00 am  Atelier, OUT in the WILDERNESS  Comments Off
Mar 052008

There was no story behind it, only a fork in the road.

On the dusty road for hours, the pilgrims wedged into hard, narrow seats – the heat – after a few hours the mind went numb, shaken into the deep potholes and constant smell of stale sweat.

The ancient bus halted. The engine idling, a blue haze – indivisible – had filled the interior, which ever way was taken, whether to beauty or disgust.

The bus lurched forward. A woman let out a screech, pulling her standing mother back into the seat beside her – indifferent – her eyes closed, her lips silently mouthing.


Crash Helmets (Two Short Pieces)

 Posted by at 10:34 am  OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Mar 042008


We were trying to pick a path through the scattered boulders, the slabs, the strange conjunctions of rocky outcrops, vertical, horizontal, random. It was late afternoon, the sun heading for those western hills, the cold air beginning to sink into the bones. I think it is worth commenting on the fact that neither of us appeared anxious about time, neither of us expressed any concern then that we might have to finish the walk in the dark. Our attention was restrained, perhaps blinkered; we were reluctant to start the roaring, uncontrollable ball of fear rolling down the steep gradient.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? Hypothermia. Death. Broken bones. Spending a long night out in the open?
It was a week into January, the middle of winter but we were in the dream of an endless summer’s day; in the dream of one step after the next and each step demanded our complete attention. Our desultory conversation consisted of gentle, half-humorous self-revelations.


Celibacy looked so clear and beautiful; a solution to certain problems that he had never put into words and had no wish to put into words.
His mother said:
You must wear a crash helmet when you go out on that bike of yours.
The remark crushed the beauty of the moment. He collapsed into a nearby chair.
I thought you were going out.
Yes, he said, but made no move.
The only sound was the ticking of the clock.
Two weeks ago he had sworn never to get angry with her again – whatever she said, whatever criticism she threw at him in her sharp nag of a voice.
He had sworn to be stronger than her.
Having sacrificed anger he had been granted a vision of a new life laid out before him, a gift from God. With every fibre of his being he had believed in this vision of his life and devoted himself to it.
But now . . .
In a second she had crushed everything to meaningless sludge.
Just as she always had.
Time telescoped to nothing.
He might as well go and get married.