THREE POEMS by Nadja Küchenmeister trans. Aimee Chor

/ / ISSUE 27, Translation

at the base

no one quite knew how late it was
when it was too late: i came back
a breeze took my hand, the courtyard

recognized me, as always, without waking
i picked out the old names on the name plates
bein, puhahn, henke, brumm, i let them dry

no clothespins on the clothesline
where there was a puddle, no longer a puddle
where no trees stood, there stood trees

the hedge conversed with me, softly, a shadow
under the ping pong table, only the lifespan of the streetlights
seemed longer than an afternoon: mr. schatta

has slept in the graveyard for twenty-five years
for twenty-five years i have been asleep too
no one quite knows how late it is, when it is too late

benches without backrests, as always deli-counter light
the small flakes on my lips, that scrap of skin
i push around at the base of my tongue, i am.

after the conversations

it is as if your furniture had decided
on its own where it would like to stand
a circumspect silence of wood

the bed in its corner in the hall
the bookshelves, their load
mystery novels, political texts

there is nostalgia for plastic
bags near the closet i catch
a scent, harsh in its sweetness

wallpaper flakes away here and there
from the walls, where did the brownish stain
on the ceiling come from, on the dresser

a framed photo of my childhood
friends, they are still looking at you
silent and dusty: this is how one grows old.



scorpion or spider


you’re saying something about matter and dark space
and your arms spread out wide, as if you wanted
to cradle a zeppelin, stars, electrodes

voices approach, grow distant, monitors
something hisses, your lungs, and these white
machines, seductively cold, know almost everything

about you, cables, hoses, the door hangs lightly
on its hinges on a glowing hot sunday
afternoon dust motes float in the air like bird

feathers on water…we follow them
as they fall, flakes of skin fall
we do not hear the steps in the hall

until we see shoes, an animal in my back
scorpion or spider, marks the break: i could not
find a container for the teeth, i’m sorry, nor

for the toothbrush, the comb, there are more hand
kerchiefs in the bag, the phone and your reading glasses
two shirts, socks, some pairs of underpants.



Aimee Chor is a poet and translator in Seattle. Her translations have appeared or are forthcoming in SepiaThe Apple Valley ReviewAzonaL, and mercury firs. She can be found on Twitter @aimeechor and at





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