If Only I Knew

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Nelly Sachs
German
1891 – 1970

 

If only I knew,
what your last look rested on.
Was it a stone that had already drunk
many last looks, until they fell in blindness
on the blind?

Or was it dirt,
earth enough to fill a shoe,
and already turned black
from so many good-byes
and from causing so much death?

Or was it your last road,
That brought you the farewell from all roads
You had walked on?

A puddle, a piece of mirroring metal,
the belt buckle of your enemy, perhaps,
or any other small fortune-teller
of heaven?

Or did this Earth, that doesn’t allow
anyone to depart from here unloved
send a bird-sign through the air,
reminding your soul so that it flinched
in its body burned with anguish?

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