L I t T e R

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Monika Rinck

lakeside demons

let’s take the landscape largest in area – oh this expanse
where demons mate and knuckle down to work
for they also have contracts as landscape architects
have designed a variety of fog called mass smoke,
discharged screes, upturned each pebble
and furrow through fields, scourged, squelch-squelch.
but that, of course, is just part of their demoning skills.
lakes, pools and puddles are their prinicipal interest.
they’ve got what it takes and the necessary swamps,
they swarm out of my memory in the morning,
colossal, doing the crawl in great strokes
bringing the ponds, laying them out and sinking them.
in the arms of the best a pond loses barely a drop.
they are known as interdimensional brokers.
the first, the second, the third, the pond becomes a disc with a handle
and – hey there Demon mate, give us a hand – two can drag it
to the planned location, add one swamp, hey presto.
oh you half-embodied desires on swampy ground
you make a quarry of my synapses, and hack at thoughts,
steel on stone, when you very well know
that your skills, your reputation too,
lie, after all, in professional pond design.

for Liza

a mess of walnuts

the friends arrived for the autumn dinner:
first, the filmmaker, as a horseman, no,
not a horseman, a Rhodesian,
and was hated immediately.
pas de problème: we had the blonde, gay
vet from the hills instead, not on the list,
brought along by the computer scientist.
in view of the walnut mousse
– a light hors d’oeuvre –
(“looks like a brain” said someone)
he insisted and insisted
that one half is female and the other male
when all of us, all of us knew that gender and sex
are effects of discourse, constructions
of identity for the heterosexual matrix
by means of performative speech acts.
I served up further courses, the theorist
just wouldn’t give it a rest, the argument escalated
with each new dish, the digestif was in the kitchen,
the highly independent gallery owner
came to help and took me away with him,
the guests stayed on and we
went dancing.
in the morning mist I reinterpreted
this chivalrous gesture in such a bland,
forlorn fashion –
how dearly I’d have liked to leave
Taxi! the city at that moment
but the dishes from the night before
were good dishes and deserved
the washing-up water.

lizard lover

you’re off again, you nimble lizard
off from the stone the sun’s abandoned.
your image flattens, whitens, turns
to plaster. your temples were the last
things left to me, as desire peppered your face
into partials– now they’re a stone relief
smooth, shadowless. once I watched your temples,
the curve of your arm, a section of hand,
and nothing else. without you there
memory was unable to shape images, unable
my eyes half-shut, hands on the table. your image,
now that I see it as a whole once more,
your image is transparent. the old world
is all that’s behind it, I see it again, lizard lover,
it’s the same one. if I’d taken part of you
it would grow back, no doubt. what excess of heat
there is in that coolness, forcing chitins to form
new scales at the speed of wisdom which
is utterly slow. but – nothing of the kind has occurred.
the fluctuating temperatures of your pride, reptilian
glory-basker lucertola, are at liberty. you entered the fiery
furnace, and the entire bath was quenched at once. just
as the ancients say: what you walk through, goes out. out.

Copyright © Monika Rinck, 2007
Translation Copyright © Alistair Noon, 2007