Report on Horst K., or the Rehabilitation of the Individual

Elisabeth Borchers
German
1926 – 2013

 

1

Raised without a mother,
the father a drinker.
Once at fourteen, again at sixteen
then off to a facility.
At twenty a third time.
Fifteen years in total,
petty crimes: the possessions of others.
Not a Picasso
or a run through the bank.
Bicycle, briefcase,
a coat, ill-fitting
but warm.
Backsliding: slipping out on the check.

Enough of that, my friend,
now things are looking up,
with gentleness and hope
into a happy life.
Congratulations,
a spot on the sunny side
has opened up.

2

Forced entry into an empty house,
consumption of canned food, use of a bed.
That wasn’t long ago.
The winter is hard.
Then once again
doing time in the warmth.
They remember it.
A story appeared in the paper.
It’s too much to bear
and we become hardened.

3

After release
a rehabilitated man at last.
In the final night of the year
he took refuge,
laid himself down in the woods and froze.
A story appeared in the paper.
The angel who carried him out of the woods
is not mentioned.

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