Five poems from The Day Seagulls Sang in Two-Part Harmony

Requiem for a just-conquered planet struck by intense radiation

But what happens when we have recounted
ourselves all stories ten thousand hot stories

lettered out the lexicon of our castles in the sky
and hunkered through our star like on

the couch we got to know each other very well
when we sit mute at the window and smoke

nights of not-quite consummate quiet
where your last sentences resound

Of this they said that we are
actually two celestial bodies

with so great a magnetism
they do not even emit their own light

so do not shine but are black
at their tongues burning storytellers

Undine goes because Hans no longer admires her new clothes

Your look—body to horizon
bays you from me and the objects
the blood cells hand countenancing
the grand finale trio eye tooth lip

leads trailing daylight to other rooms
far away to gravediggers gravesniggers
insurgents and fighters in Grozny
to the rainbow red yellow red

since every cloud spews pus and blood
my mother told me yet
never sleep with a photographer
they’ve seen too much already

You are with hills or tulips or where
This is the city promenade zone
here we are here does your inner fire
promenade about with the knowledge

that two people who love one another
can add or subtract themselves
can make plus or as in this case
through no single fault minus

At the Ostracism the title is on a lovely shard of ceramic blue

The prospect of a tearing open the earth
at putting a pencil down you say

resembles the prospect of the first men
across the Atlantic who disregarding casualty

hightailed like dogs seeking their masters
in another hemisphere It certainly doesn’t resemble

the still air here in the field
It follows our usual silence

The year coincides and the floor
congeals mid-collapse I remember

the vagueness in the weather forecast today morning
and feel at both hands while you let go

the Ostracism of the wind bringing
but hats and maybe a few old papers

Look how the snow load thrusts upon staghorn sumac branches

What swords scattered on fields
where we walk I am sure Hand-
in-hand it’s all feasible Angel swim

Angel sink This is only a diversion
when we walk about this and that
now I know and you too now everything

which happened last week
Last year the trees at the left forest bent under
snow load We had brought our stability analysis

with us in passing
happy summers
I always look to air when you say

we’ll make it through the full moon
Let’s plan a vacation this time further to the
Sun even closer

That would be almost as though
we lay down in June heat here together
laughing to the wild bed

in an acre I say Darling you say
Darling too  The swords smile at us nobody picks
one up I swear we get old together

The day seagulls sang in two-part harmony

While water retreats and jellyfish stay put
unoffended by salt
by oxidation and sun
you envy children poking sandy heels
for sea shells their Assurance
to you a complete
stupefying violence

Your eye is cleaned has sharper pupils now
while breakwater munches back to sea
are you missing something
a few years
in Happen small like behind a postage stamp
white like octopus flesh seagulls took away
There is a pain with capped tie to head

Cover lean cables of oil
The waves lead through rims of foam
to early
and in
the time
the stair of farewell you maul slow
descend you did to this beach
—you can still swim but you no longer
swim yourself freely—

I know you shocked at the jellyfish
the skill being ugly and still translucent
and I know that you soon screaming
demand advice I seek elsewhere
in the hope I return the question


Silke Scheuermann

Silke Scheuermann (b. 1973, Kahrlsruhe) is a German poet and novelist whose debut poetry collection, Der Tag an dem die Möwen zweistimmig sangen (in English translation: The Day Seagulls Sang in Two-Part Harmony), was awarded the Leonce and Lena Poetry Prize. Since her 2001 debut, Scheuermann has gone on to write novels, poetry collections, and a children's book. She has won several literary accolades for her fiction and poetry.

Patty Nash

Patty Nash is an arts fellow and MFA candidate in literary translation at The University of Iowa. She edits the blog at Asymptote and is currently serving as co-editor of Exchanges, the Iowa-affiliated translation journal. Her own writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Reader, similar:peaks::, and the Asymptote blog. She tweets at @pattynashdj.

Der Tag an dem die Möwen zweistimmig sangen. Copyright (c) Suhrkamp Verlag, 2001. English translation copyright (c) Patty Nash, 2015.