The Practice of Art in Dresden
On the lawn in the courtyard with vines climbing walls
the chairs mostly taken by white-headed ladies
who’ve been peering so long into the afternoon
light, that although they hadn’t known Weber,
Wagner they had. And they give me significant
nods: It will start any minute, young man.
And indeed the musicians are already sitting
at attention. A window closes, a second
with considerable rattling, and off goes the cat,
but then a third one opens
and a high-growing hollyhock
awaits what’s to come. Now we just need to let
the motorbike’s roaring pass by.
From below, from the muddy rumbling river
a tugboat is sounding its horn. And then silence. The hillside
breathes its dark green into the garden.
And softly the gentlemen start to bow light
on their violins. The ancients dose.
And slowly adagio vines begin covering
the garden, the chairs. An up-downing
of midges starts slowly to slow and sews
the moment on. I won’t ever age,
you arty Dresden mummies. But what’s got into
the musical gentlemen? They’re sawing on and on,
crescendo, but keeping control, the ancients nod:
Yes, the Staatskapelle, the midges’ twitching
races fast and faster, help!, and time –
towards Hades. Now only snow is missing.
Enormous flakes of it sweeping to the edge of the roof
and over, the Baroque, soft snow of the Elbe Valley,
turning my hair white. Loud applause. The end.
‘Where is,’ asks the bird-headed lady to my left,
‘the young man who was sitting here?’
‘Gone,’ I say. In barely an hour in Dresden
in a storm of beauty he has aged years.
From: Rosenlöcher, Thomas: Die Dresdner Kunstausübung : Gedichte / Thomas Rosenlöcher. – Frankfurt a. M. : Suhrkamp, 1996. – 92p.
Translated by Stefan Tobler