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Reposting this link to some beautiful English translations of the poems of Swiss poet Erika Burkart.

andrea scrima

Now online at Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics: 

“Fragments, Shards and Visions” — on the Swiss poet Erika Burkart

Introductory essay by Marc Vincenz and interview with Ernst Halter, Burkart’s widower.

erika_burkart

The following prose by Erika Burkart is translated from the German by Andrea Scrima from Am Fenster, wo die Nacht einbricht. Erika Burkart, Aufzeichnungen, ed. Ernst Halter, Zürich: Limmat Verlag. 

Childhood / Ninepins and a Thunderstorm

Ninepins. They’re playing ninepins, said my father, as above us the sky’s protective vault shook with the muffled rumblings of thunder. Who dared to hold a game of ninepins in the House of Angels? They did, blithely unconcerned about turning the cathedral into a wooden heaven. Elfi, our waitress, said a wooden heaven was just a room full of drunken men.

The ninepin lane took up the northeast corner of the garden terrace: because of their finger holes, in which I saw…

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andrea scrima

Memory. Too much of it rather than too little, layers and layers of it. Peel one back and discover another: this year or that, compressed into a potent concentrate, like Gentian Violet. Try to describe the sensation that rekindles a particular period of time, and you find that it’s outside the boundaries of the tangible, the intelligible. It’s like opening a capsule and something flashes in the mind—not a smell or a sound, but a quicksilver essence that escapes into the air and just as quickly dissipates, too rash to apprehend any individual attributes. You glimpse a fundamental form, recognize it somewhere within yourself, as though the nerves in the body were retracing a geometric diagram for a moment, and then poof! The blackboard is erased, the sensation vanishes, and although you try to retrieve it, you know that its very nature is evanescent, that whatever secret it might be…

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andrea scrima

Was it you that that happened to, or was it me? Does it matter?I too looked into a mirror once and saw two eyes that resembled the eyes you drew from your own reflection. I had taken a fall, hard on my skull, from a storage loft in my Brooklyn studio. I was on my knees, crawling backwards after getting the last of the framed photographs up and out of the way in order to sublet the space; I was feeling for the top of the ladder with my foot, and I missed. The next thing I knew I was sprawled on my back on the cement floor nine feet below, and my lungs felt as flat as pancakes, and I was unable to breathe. Slowly, methodically, with the mechanical will that kicks in when your survival instinct shoves you aside and takes over, I turned myself around, a…

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