What It Takes


You crumbs on the table there

between glass and jug—what it takes, to

see you the way I do now (exactly

what it takes, for the question to first

            be asked):

            Blood, screaming, gasp-

ing (almost strangled with the um-

bilical cord), shitty diapers, it takes pants,

the fear of the dark, all alone—the

fear of others, of getting walloped, fear

of school, diplomas, it takes the

first desire for girls, pangs of con-

science while masturbating (Grandma

looking down from heaven), booze,

it takes the joy of camaraderie, hitch-

hiking with tent and hash, it takes

the Doors, and it takes Rilke, Benn,

Beethoven and Hölderlin, the desire

to become wise and enlightened, to

write about the fight and the toil,

it takes poetry, at the edge of in-

sanity (though not just at the edge), the

first kiss, it takes hormones, a

woman’s thigh stroked by a hand and

mouth, it takes the move to the

big city, the highs on streets,

squares, forcing contracts on strange

people, your own apartment, blind dates,

it takes cocktails, it takes

that date where the spark leaps,

so that one stays together and I

move in with woman and dog

and hamster, often fighting and

making up (the hamster long dead,

the dog still howling), finally it takes

the dirty dishes, previously washed

by me, the mood which then

arrives, it takes my finishing

with the washing up, my sitting down

       at the

        table, on which you crumbs

are lying, there between the glass and

jug—where I look at you, with

my world-perception-device,

twelve-thirty in the morning,

in a kitchen in Berlin

Translated by Mark Terrill

and published in the Germany Issue of the „Atlanta Review“, 2009

Deutsche Originalfassung


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