my skin is white on account of a sun allergy and because I spend my days with the curtains drawn and dream of planting a little square of garden. your narrow mouth is red from the flesh of the girls who passed us by on the toxic banks of the flooded quarry ponds, where we spent our summers. a brown bear was friend to us both. we each smeared honey round his mouth on our own way. you with your mouth, me with a spoon of snow. where are you? I look for you at all the public baths but never find you. though, of course, you and your she-bear companion don't visit public baths. you lie on the hidden banks of a brand-new lake and beat each other gently with hazel switches, until one of you laughs and calls out: hey, that hurt. should you seek me, Rose Red, you will find me on the ice-bear's back. we are standing on artificial cliffs with an eye on the animal keeper's peephole. we are smeared all over with honey.
By Ulrike Almut Sandig
Translated by Karen Leeder
Ulrike Almut Sandig (b. 1979) was born in East Germany and lives in Berlin with her family. She is the author of two collections of short stories and four volumes of poetry. She frequently collaborates with filmmakers, sound artists and musicians and her first CD with her poetry band LANDSCHAFT appeared in 2018. Sandig has won many prozes, including the Leonce and Lena Prize (2009), the Literary Prize of the Federation of German Industries (2017), the Wilhelm Lehmann Prize (2018) and the Horst-Bingel Prize (2018). Her poetry collection Thick of It, published by Seagull Books in 2018, was shortlisted fot the prestigious Schlegel-Tieck Prize.
Karen Leeder is a writer, translator and academic, who teaches German at New College, Oxford. She translates a number of German writers into English. She was awarded an English PEN award and an American PEN/Heim award for translations from Ulrike Almut Sandig’s Thick of It (2018), which was also shortlisted for the 2019 Schlegel-Tieck Prize. Her translations of Sandig’s poem cycle Grimm appeared as a limited edition pamphlet in with Hurst Street Press in 2018.
Photo by Lisa Kalloo
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