2 Poems on the theme of “Borderlands”

by Eliot Cardinaux

The difficulty in making use of metaphor surrounding the holocaust, for myself, as a non-Jewish person (Ingeborg Bachmann (see below), however, was the non-Jewish daughter of an Austrian Nazi, only 18 years old when the war ended), is very contentious, because, what we have happening in certain parts of the country (along the border in particular…) and in parts of the world, including, I know especially, for example, Palestine, is comparable, if not in scope than in deed, and, in the case of Trump’s detention centers, at the very imperative dialectical least, in glaring potential. I think it is the very difficulty in writing about such things, as Pierre Joris once wrote to me, similarly, about his own work translating the holocaust poet Paul Celan (who was also a great love of Bachmann, both in their lives and work), that makes it so rewarding.


BORDERLANDS

.

    For Ingeborg Bachmann

.

Life swirls in concealment.

Memory, cradled in absence

cannot hide

a sepulchral catharsis

triggered in the neutral sky.

.

A camp behind the eyelids,

the flame has turned

from the wick,

and the water in our eardrums pressed the dead

who outnumber the living.

.

But the answer is numb, now,

rises like a funnel of air,

a night whistle

tattooed there, black as the sun,

where no lash resides.

.

And ash rims the soil

of the country of your soul;

exile tore down the heaven

toward which it opened:

a poet’s borderland.

.


AFTER CELAN

.

XVI

.

Sky-

artifice

in jagged

greys;

.

nostalgia,

scouring

the resonant

rock-

known no-

threshold,

.

look along

the borderland:

.

the guestless,

heaven-known

reminder-child-

small, yet

here-again

face.

.


 

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