Home > Poetry > You traveled to the end of the world
Translated from the German by Monika Cassel
Published: Sat Oct 15 2022
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 96 Home Nature Loss
You traveled to the end of the world

and there were gardens half-renovated courtyards
you saw despair clambering up long poles
and dissipation with all its arabesques
you came all the way here sat down
in a freshly painted room with a view
onto the street and held the key in your hand
and then set it down next to the bed
the end of the world draped itself over you
rolled stones onto you all through the long night
while outside your window
the village held counsel
about what to do with this stranger
and the mountains receded behind themselves
and blackberry vines rose up rapidly
took over the gardens everything all was green
and in your sleep you saw the forest draw up and heard it whisper,
the house you are sleeping in will fall away
empty for so long the rooms too low and drafty
ever since the plaster stopped filling the gaps between the big beams
and each no longer can bear the next one’s weight
the corners of the house were Work Death Weather
and God the house that was named Community
will fall away it had eight corners
four of them were named Future one was Men another Women
with Skillful Hands and Formidable Asses
one was called Workday’s Over another The Border
we made it all the way to here
the house was painted red and decorated with the stars
of the EU we made it to here
and the shingles shine and even if it wanted to
it couldn’t ever decompose completely
its rubble will glow on in the forest of the future
and the house called Family will fall away
made from the ceaseless din of weed whackers in summer
and the TV’s chatter in the winter
built by that little army Man Woman Children
and its corners were called Property
Time to Settle Down and A Set of Matching Dishes
under the eaves A Nook of Childhood Woes
and Dirt all the irrepressible dirt
and The Consolation of Photography
because things only really touch us
when they are flat as roadkill frogs
of which there used to be so many but that too is over now
for the garages will fall away
and the house of Waiting will fall away too
a little house with corners made of kisses and piss
with walls made of quickly fading truths
house of Hearts Promises Eulogies of Rattling
house of the circle that keeps completing itself
where at noon a man dozes at the wheel
and a woman waits and the door stays locked
until the needle reaches the right spot
and she tells him where she wants to go
and he tells her how much it will cost
the house with the twenty-two corners
of gambling and quick profits will fall away
with its reflective windows and misplaced
expectations built of shining singularities
it will fall away into the punctiliousness
of speculators and lottery players
dragonflies fly in at the windows
shock hides in the flickering lights of the slot machines
the church will fall away after the ladybug crawls
across the threshold out into the open
while the loudspeakers keep broadcasting the service
and the priest struggles with the clasps on the holy scriptures
which never actually worked that well
something has come loose and rattles
against the window the house on the margins
that never belonged will fall away
have a seat fly have a seat you quivering thoughts
the shelf on which the summer’s sugar was kept
will fall away and sugar will spread
across the floor until the ants come to carry it off
the apples will grow small and sour and
the discovery trail in three languages will fall away
also the knowledge of history and certainty
the insects you squashed will return
to contemplate the marks their deaths left upon the walls
the foxes will come to reclaim their redness
which the people never could find a use for anyway
now it has grown cooler in the shade
of the forest that is closing in
but the solar lanterns are shining on
the laden tables a pail tipped sideways an overcast sky
an escaped hen and a phone ringing in a purse
paths have disappeared already and swings
the children are gone and the hole in the wall
that you first noticed just before you went to sleep
the village will fall away and the regional hub it belongs to
Bratislava will fall away
Münster—there’s nothing to be done
and Weimar—here also sadly that store that sells the fossils
Shirley Temple’s body will fall away
and your body
and the body of whoever reads this
or will have read it or is in the family of someone
who once read it back when the forest closed in
and reclaimed the village you’d traveled to
in order to see the wilderness

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Daniela Danz is the author of four books of poetry, two novels, and the libretto for Ben Frost’s opera Der Mordfall Halit Yozgat. Her most recent awards include the 2019 German Prize for Nature Writing, the 2020 Günter Kunert Literaturpreis für Lyrik, and the 2022 Lyrikpreis Orphil. In 2021 she was named vice president of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. She is a former director of the Schillerhaus in Rudolstadt and directs the national youth writing competition “Demokratisch handeln.” (updated 10/2022)

Read Ellen Wiese’s review of “You traveled to the end of the world” by Daniela Danz, translated from German by Monika Cassel in the folio “AGNI 96 Reviews AGNI 96

Monika Cassel’s translations and poems have appeared in Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, AGNIAsymptote, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Grammar of Passage (flipped eye publishing, 2021) won the Venture Poetry Award. She was a founding faculty member of New Mexico School for the Arts, where she developed the creative writing curriculum. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College and a teaching artist with Writers in the Schools in Portland, Oregon. (updated 10/2022)

Read Cassel’s entry in AGNI’sIn Discussion: AGNI 96 Reviews AGNI 96

Read Ellen Wiese’s review of “You traveled to the end of the world” by Daniela Danz, translated from German by Cassel in the folio “AGNI 96 Reviews AGNI 96

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