The Blessed

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 125th birthday.

Gertrud Kolmar
German
1894 – 1943

 

I am in the darkness and alone.
In front of me stands the door.
When I open it, I am bathed in light.
There are a father, a mother and sister,
A dog, which, dumb, still barks in friendliness.

How can I lie, and how can I say
That I, hidden there in darkness, have not come to harm them?
I drag myself over the threshold.

Snow blossoms in my eyes.
I saw him bowing to me courteously;
How much that hurt me.

How could my heart find peace,
When round it raced the voice of the old man?
I live in coldness.

I dried my tears and went
To where the man was eating with his family.
It was so calm and loving a reception.

I felt the violins sounding inside me
At first, so sweetly, so gently.
They will never sound again, when I have finished.

Fear drenched my hands.
Beneath me I could almost taste my womb.
A sneer seemed to say: ‘Have you no shame?
What have you done with the wedding-ring on your finger?
Terrible thief, where did you hide your courage?
Does the nakedness of my right hand mean so little to me?’

I felt so poor and naked.
I wriggled in my chair
And trembled to think what I must do.

Pity clawed at my heart and shook my body
Like a tree in a winter field blown by the wind
Shedding leaves.

I told myself it was time to go,
Scolding my wan, faded self for my little worries.
Pleased with myself again, I steeled myself for the torture.

The joy of it! Oh, how I want to be
Just like an animal and be happy again!
I sharpen my claws with a knife.

It is still night, and that thing called shame,
I may not let it show itself.
I know the train that tears through the woods.

I go out to the unfeeling rails.
Weary, I am glad to go to bed,
Running across two flat sticks of iron.

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