From distant transit
hay sheds in lase
i stepped abruptly into time’s rear courtyard,
into the chink of time that stared impassively.
under the ash-copse before me stood
the sheds, stricken with the lichen of age,
derelict. as if year after year the ricks had been shaken by
the seconds’ tremors, they caved in,
no longer thought much of themselves. as lepers
they were once banished behind the crest
of the hill, where there was nothing to till,
no garden, no field, where neither human
nor animal shelters stood in anyone’s way or cornered
their dwellers in constriction,
in bias. under the corrugated metal roof
the smallest of doors, through which only the lankest
creature and a pitiful man could
slip. here destiny ordained who was to leave,
who would hurriedly abandon his barrels, scythes
and wheels, the crudely timbered
granaries, the chestnut basket, the straw door,
the last wisps of straw in decrepit wooden huts. those who
could not give up dreaming stood on
the deck of an ocean liner and waved
at those who stayed home. carrying in their luggage
the story of lepa vida like blind passengers.
underneath, wrapped in an old shirt,
the memory of Mount Matajur’s crest
at dawn, when they set off.
house of old languages
distraught bees buzz in the corridors
of my abandoned language.
birds of passage purge themselves in
rooms assailed and reviled
as if they were finally home—that is, there where
they once were. language
kept me in thrall to the world but left me
unsatisfied. were i to bite through it,
i would taste its desolation. i left little behind,
even if it was all that remained from the years
i’d combed through. momentous promises
piled up behind its porous, atrophied
walls, along with that sweet melody, that still sang
to me of milk and honey, although
the destruction was long evident. i finally
set out, followed by all i’d left behind.
it has reached its destination,
while i circle without end.
on the shores of the new land you will
discard your mother tongue. clouds that drift by
above will be echoes of words
you once spoke, but now
withhold. long after you are gone
the knights of the air will fulfill
the figments of your imagination,
love, worry, harmony,
as strange as the giants of la mancha. the house
you once lived in is a roughly
timbered frame of smoke. it hovers
over you, barely perceptible, imponderable, like you.
washed up on the shore, an old comb,
the wrong sock in the right shoe.
the crumpled horizon in your hand,
an island of garish paper.
catchfly eyebright bird’s eye
a grassy slope floods
my eyes with earth, pebbles
and grass, with flowers pink,
yellow-white and blue. i have forgotten
the names of all the plants
that flowed through me and could
not bear witness, nor testify
for them at some point. later,
much later, when the meadow floods
like lučca, smetlika, veronika
can perch on the flowers
or appear unexpectedly
like thoughts that had veered
off course long before.
will i recognize them or spell
them back into silence?
will the meadow remember me,
will the flowers know my name?
i will fall into the chasm.
the meadow will replace me.
[Translated from the German by Tess Lewis]
 Lase is an Italian village in the region of Friuli near the Slovenian border with a population of 7 in 2020.