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Published: Mon Nov 09 2020
Night reading mode 


Translated from the German by Iain Galbraith

Enter and leave the same fields at the same time each day, soothe the hawk from its wildness by a ritual of behaviour as invariable as its own.
J. A. Baker

at noon each day
stooping over the shardfield
of the hour in which i hatched
the egg sac burst the taut sheath
of the wind the rodent’s scream. lost
my parents (you know how few
we) a stranger came fed
instructed me

at noon each day
stooping over the shardfield
the squares of orchards
hedges fields whitethorn
pinkthorn crunching the white
poisoned grass the jutting
clods (how few we)
at 3,000 feet
              of shatter-winged

tercel rush
speed through the deep
lagoons of the heavens
from the crests of the cirrus
from the thick-barked earth-air
ripper and blade (out of
the sun, sure)
to the ground
              sinew seam streak
wave-world surging
color of pounded wood
sinking land

the feathers round my eyes
absorbed light. so the
hunter can become the
hunted? squeeze into

your four-eyed head
the swooping wing
bolting through your sleep
swimming almost snake-
like gliding through a plowed
field. ducks call

you craving. above
the estuary seek
wing-hold in the salt-flushed
sleekness of the air.


Ulrike Draesner, one of the most prominent poets writing in German today, is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including gedächtnisschleifen (memory loops, 1995), für die nacht geheuerte zellen (cells hired for the night, 2001), and subsong (subsong, 2014); seven novels, the most recent of which is Schwitters (Penguin, 2020); three books of short stories; and seven volumes of essays. A translator of Gertrude Stein, H. D., and Louise Glück, she has received many literary awards, most recently the Nicolas Born Prize (2016), the Gertrud Kolmar Prize (2019), and the GEDOK-Prize (2020). She lives in Berlin and Leipzig, where, as director of the Institute for German Literature since 2018, she holds a professorship in creative writing. (8/2020)

Iain Galbraith is a poet and essayist whose most recent publications include a volume of poems, The True Height of the Ear (Arc, 2018), and translations of Esther Dischereit’s Sometimes a Single Leaf: Selected Poems (Arc, 2020) and Reinhard Jirgl’s novel The Unfinished (Seagull, 2020). He has received several prizes for his work, including the Stephen Spender Prize (2014), the Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation (2015), and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 2016 for Jan Wagner’s Self-portrait with a Swarm of Bees: Selected Poems (Arc), and again in 2019 for Esther Kinsky’s prose work River (Fitzcarraldo). He was born and grew up in the West of Scotland and lives in Wiesbaden, Germany. (8/2020)

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