Open Wardrobe

In honor of German Unity Day, we present this work by one of Germany’s greatest modern writers.

Günter Grass
1927 – 2015


The shoes are at the bottom.
They are afraid of a beetle
On the way out,
Of a penny on the way back,
Of a beetle and a penny on which they might tread
Till it impresses itself.
At the top is the home of the headgear.
Take heed, by wary, not headstrong.
Incredible feathers,
What was the bird called,
Where did its eyes roll
When it knew that its wings were too gaudy?
The white balls asleep in the pockets
Dream of moths.
Here a button is missing,
In this belt the clasp grows weary.
Doleful silk,
Asters and other inflammable flowers,
Autumn becoming a dress.
Every Sunday filled with flesh
And the salt of folded linen.
Before the wardrobe falls silent, turns into wood,
A distant relation of pine-trees,—
Who will wear the coat
One day when you’re dead?
Who move his arm in the sleeve,
Anticipate every movement?
Who will turn up the collar,
Stop in front of the pictures
And be alone under the windy cloche?

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