A German
Love Song

Remember the picture you made of us
Before we knew? A touch of white mist
At the edges. You told me that
You wanted to never forget how my
Pale fingers could curl up in touch with
What you called the black beast of you.

Remember marching down
The wet alley at dawn?
We passed them singing orisons
To their plaster gods,
Painted pink and rose.
Doors closed around us,
And they prayed loudly
For the sins of our love.
Who could then
Have known then
That so many of us
Would lie unforgotten
In the common ground?

Black tears leaked down and your voice
(You so fearful) gouged yet another hole
In the wings bearing us towards dying.
Forget them, I whispered. To forget the beast
That trampled this book of pain
Under the flat eyes of St. Christopher.

Doll heads pulled from other mouths;
A ring of frieze; skulls draped about
Other ankles --- worms ground out
Of the hearts of babes. The leaden eyes.

Your kisses tasted of ashes and gunfire.
You finally took the breast I think.
In your madness and in your fear
You knew I would come back but
As one of the gods to kiss you
Into transports of death.

--- Franz Werfel
Translated by Ignacio Schwartz


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