In Memory of An All-Girl Band (A Paul Klee Cento) – Andrew Sunshine

But everything about her is a bit too blond-on-blond,
A bit lean, no longer in her first bloom,
Which rather contradicts the childlike features.
Old Rome, with its eyes full of rain.

What a weighty destiny:
To be the hinge between this side and the other side
A hinge at the border of yesterday and today.
I, crystal.

Even the briefest moment, if it is a good one
Can produce a document of a new pitch of intensity
A rapid glimpse from the moving train of a ghostly village
Abandoned, phantasmal, dead
One eye sees the other feels

To be human, to be ancient, naïve and nothing,
And yet happy. It is good to be so for once
The train speeding toward Rome, what a sensation that was
Only one thing is true:
In me, a weight, a little stone

In the restaurant run by my uncle,
The fattest man in Switzerland, were tables topped
With polished marble slabs, whose surfaces displayed
A maze of petrified layers …
Tea that serves as a manifold substitute for all the geishas of the world

I frequently drew at Frick’s house—
He was my uncle, the fat restaurant owner. I used to
Look at the Fliegende Blätter there.
The most agitated days pleased me especially.

Once there was a thunderstorm on Thun, and I saw lightning bolts at my feet.
A friend early in the morning behind the mountain.
Now. I again go to a good look-out post
To watch the preparations for weighing anchor.
How beautiful it was … how marvelously beautiful.

When nothing is left, hunger drives me to the village.
I am filled with high spirits. So,
All ready for work! The shining light of a hundred candles.
If only I knew how one draws
a lion holding a Bavarian escutcheon in his paw.

I ask for nursery rhymes and Russian tales.
Received a pound of honey from Fräulein Scheller.
A grain of it suffices for a human life.

Andrew SunshineAndrew Sunshine is the author of Thyrsus and 99 (Linear Arts) and Andra moi (Ambitus Books), and his poems have appeared in Literal Latte, Salonika, and Snake Nation, among other publications. He is co-editor (with Donna Jo Napoli) of Tongue’s Palette: Poetry by Linguists and editor of The Alembic Space: Writings on Poetics and Translation by Joseph Malone (Atlantis-Centaur, 2004 and 2006 respectively). He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons and works at Columbia University.