Above languages

Poem By Dorothea Grünzweig

Vjell has different words from mine different names
when I say woods he responds with korpi
lumituisku he counters for snowdrifts keväinen
for spring
I could come up with as many examples
as there are snowflakes we love to play with words
they love to play with one another
but living with them also means circling
around questions like
Do we understand them correctly do they understand us
are they fond of one another do they pay attention
which is not always the case worrying
for worry's sake about words
until instead of
keeping cool we fly off the handle
There are times when they remain sealed up
inside us no one
can hear himself speak
which makes us homesick for
our own words and for those of others
and the homesickness grows
so much that we need to stay away from each other

Or else and here you see its beauty lies
leaning a long time against the bridge railing
joined at the shoulder head to head we feel
the wordloss as freedom as relief

when the water shoots away beneath us we're
a boat heading north downriver to the heaving sea
silent astern silent yet broadside cheering

Translated from the German by Derk Wynand

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