They enter Brixton Market and stroll along the main aisle. An overpowering stench, a huge variety of fish, seafood, draped sea monsters, creatures, which, when he glances at their tentacles, and at the severed heads left in plastic buckets, make him wretch.
Did he need some fresh air?
With some effort he shakes his head. Change to a different section.
Fruit, vegetables, produce, which he has never seen before. Sticky sweetness, his stomach registers. Her hand suddenly on his lower arm.
‘Have a look over there.’ The gentle caressing of his wrist.
They reach the aisle that she wanted to show him.
Pungent smell, congealed blood.
Her finger, trying to make him look in a particular direction – severed animal heads, pigs with glassy eyes, how lucky I am!
With a woman like her, beauty like hers, carcass halves hanging from the rear wall on sharpened hooks, I feel queasy.
He gulps down the taste, bitter as gall, the bile from the guts, which is now persistently oozing from his pharynx into his oral cavity, teeth clenched, lips tightly closed, gulps, struggles, looks for support, then her hand in his, what did I do to deserve this.
Guts, chitterlings, lengths of intestines, that appear to be coiled, are presented to the customer in boxes dripping with blood.
Beside it the poultry, some with heads, some without.
Liver, heart, kidneys, I would like to kiss her.
Yellowish claws, horn, the ridges of the cockerels‘ combs blazing red, if it weren’t for the sickly smell, and all the flies, how lucky I am, he vomits.
By Michael Wildenhain
Translated from the German by Jade Johnson & Jemima O’Keefe
Michael Wildenhain – Writer in Residence 2006 at the CAGCR. Michael Wildenhain was born in West Berlin in 1958 and still lives there with his family. After studying economics, philosophy and computer science, he was involved in the left-wing squatter movement in West Berlin, which provided the material for his first literary texts. He is particularly well known as a writer of prose for young adults. He has taught creative writing at the Literaturinstitut Leipzig. His most recent novel Das Lächeln der Alligatoren was shortlisted for the prestigious Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse (2015). Wildenhain is a member of the Verband Deutscher Schriftsteller and of the PEN centre Germany.
Michael Wildenhain was one of Six Trendsetting German Authors who took part in the ‘Waves of Difference’ German Literature Festival organised by Queen Mary, University of London and Goethe-Institut London.
Thank you to the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations at the Queen Mary, University of London for allowing us to publish this translation.