Poems by Cornelia Marks / Translated from German into English by Marco Organo

 

cornelia marks - 1

Poems by Cornelia Marks

 

Translated from German into English by Marco Organo

 

 

VUKOVAR

 

this was the kitchen

cups and bowls made of clay

lie on a heap of rubble

one once kept the sugar

for the bitter black coffee

and there

the bulbous cup of bright porcelain

still untouched still at its place

as if the owner just left

to get some milk.

 

the town does not exist anymore

only its shadow is left

magnolia bloom every year

in the gardens of vanished houses

 

sometimes a stork spreads its wings as a sign

 

on the radio the news about a wedding:

the bride wore a transparent veil and a white gown.

 

(Vukovar in ruins, educational journey in june 1999)

 

 

 

MOTH

 

My room –

a prison to you

 

you followed the light

against your destiny

 

Now you are here

circling around me

afraid, panicking

bouncing

off the walls

so white

that you’ll be visible

on them forever.

 

Does darting sideways

flying in a zigzag

mean that

you are tracking yourself?

 

At one point

you give up

rest

as a dark spot

at the bright ceiling

quietly

I watch you

 

 

 

VISITING GOETHE

 

Tell me what it was like, Zuleika,

how you loved your poet, loved so much,

that your smile, you couldn’t give him,

the hopeless tender touch of your hand,

the kisses you breathed into the void

curdled to mysterious verses of dark amber

making the “Divan”

a symbol of your love,

every syllable a promising glance,

every rhyme a heartbeat,

every metaphor a hieroglyph

of the longing both of you felt.

 

Pieces at exhibition whisper in chorus,

hold him tight, don’t let him go…

Between all those showcases, old desks and clocks

I suddenly look right into the hazel of his eyes,

 

and I press it gently, that warm hand of the poet.

 

 

 

HER NAME

 

She got her name from a midwife

that’s what her mother told her,

who only thought about names for a boy,

who was disappointed about giving birth to a second girl.

 

The midwife came to help her.

Without that unknown woman she would be nameless to this day.

She should be thankful,

she knows that now.

In the past however she felt like

that name is not hers, does not belong to her,

is just a borrowed one: a limited ticket to life –

the merciful justification for a lost girl.

 

If you’d be a boy, said her mother, your name would be Michael.

Sometime she thinks about that Micha, as her maybe-brother,

and maybe he is somewhere, watching her from a cloud –

why did he send her first into this life, that should have been his?

He would have had it easier than her, on a way flavoured with joy,

’cause doors open wide for those, who are welcome.

Who is unwanted has to knock for a lifetime…

Micha got his name, before it was clear that he would even exist.

No name was given to her, although, or because she existed.

All his faults were forgiven, before he could make them.

She got punished for mistakes she did not even make.

 

For Micha, to please her father, she learned, how to play chess,

trained hard on the field, running laps, till her heart

flicked like a red candle – and in the end

coldly embraced by the surgeons tools

wondered how it still kept beating,

afraid, with a thorn in its wounded chambers.

 

Today she sang this little song:

I came up to here to meet you.

Finally I got my name, by you I’m born again.

Spoken by you like a poem it opens wide.

Who I was – vanished in this mirror.

I got my name by an midwife,

and you…- you have given me my face.

 

 

 

One thought on “Poems by Cornelia Marks / Translated from German into English by Marco Organo

  1. I read these poems. They create a mood of a desperate isolation and then swing into a celebration of the Self. All these poems bear a distinctive style of the poet although the same are translations from original German.I will sum up Cornelia Marks’s poem in just one word, ‘BEAUTIFUL’.

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