BERLIN ELEGIES GRACE ANDREACCHI
Copyright ÂŠ 2009 by Grace Andreacchi All rights reserved
Cover image: Naschmarkt, The Lost Puppets by Markus Sepperer on flickr.com
Ich schlief, aber mein Herz war wach.
You darken and dazzle my days You light up my nights Batter bruise and confuse me Delight and seduce me with pure luxuriant noise Then sit, the still small heart of me So much a part of me Every word I ever write I write for thee
I dreamt we were walking free among the dead Bombs had flattened the sky The earth was on fire We crawled into a hole you laid your head on my breast laughed, and touched me with desire I thought, are we dead? Is this heaven, this place full of bodies? I wanted to ask but you kissed me instead
We were talking as if we had never been dumb It was summer and the goldengroves stood silent in the heat upright and gleaming We were doing the talking: franglais deutsch oder russisch vielleicht Ich weiĂ&#x; nicht mehr and it doesn't matter Words like ringing golden coins dropped from your mouth onto the wooden table under the oak trees all bright and breathing the summer twilight goes on and on unleaving
You are sitting at table I come up behind you and place my hands on your shoulders They rest there quietly two pale butterflies Why don't you turn round? I can feel you smiling
BEREITE DICH, ZION
Fresh snow on the fields and all along the track frost flowers blooming. In the distance a single light flickers and dies Overhead the stars like golden fireflies are winking in the forest of the night. I have put on my corals and rubies I have put on my robe of purest light I have sewed my heart to the sleeve of my garment Ich bin bereit.
Trying on hats before a blue mirror I caught sight of you in the glass watching me The hat feathered and wild a joke between us You there in the corner suddenly smiled
NOT A DREAM
It's the middle of the night the streets are covered in broken glass you're sitting in the plush blue interior of your BMW with your head down on the steering wheel crying
All the windows were dark but one All the candles were burning I lay in the rosewater bath and watched the sky turning that strange light-fingered grey that comes before day Watched the blood petals floating All the veins were open The windows too Out in the street the snow was crisp underfoot And the sky like a sheet of cold metal burning
ON THE U-BAHN
Everybody's watching me Everybody's smiling I'm the Princess of the U-Bahn in my bright metal jacket There's a big pool of blood getting bigger every minute right under my feet Everybody's watching
They are keeping you deep underground in a small dark room cut into the rock no light no air hardly room to turn round I can hear you calling Your voice very faint, but clear calling my name I'm afraid, but I know I must go to you Deeper and deeper I follow the sound of your voice down black walls dripping with damp seething with snakes I pass a sign: 'Sie Verlassen den Amerikanischen Sektor' I know I'm not in Kansas anymore and I haven't even a mangy little dog to help me out Still, I've got to get you out So I keep going down deeper and deeper and deeper... Isn't there an opera something like this? How does it end? O namenlose Freude? O endless joy, my Friend
HOUSE ON FIRE
Somebody call the fire brigade! I think we're in trouble I think we're on fire Aren't those flames eating up the stage roaring up on the roof lighting up the night sky? Why do they all just sit there? Nobody scream or run? I can feel the heat on my face Now my hair's caught fire My fine silk gown in a moment all burnt to ash My naked skin swells turns bright as brass cracks open my bones are molten my heart's alight and my eyes are melting down Now the walls are collapsing The balconies fall blazing to the ground The golden caryatids in crowns of flame genuflect, crumble and tumble into the pit! Still nobody makes a sound Still in their seats they sit 11
and watch you sing and don't seem to notice anything When at last it's over I look around and see everything in its place everyone smiling and clapping No one got burned but me
I went into the forest in the middle of the night to hear you, my wild little bird! Oh you'll break my heart with your song of the starlight and the moonlight and the rushing black brook so cold Oh you'll break my heart, My wild little bird! I lay down in the rushes by the edge of the brook under the starlight and the moonlight The wet leaves cover me I won't get up again You've broken my heart with your wild song Oh my Love, my Little One!
I was just a pretty little rose blooming in a corner of the garden Everyone who saw me loved me Blushing, I showed my red silk gown and gave my sweet scent freely to all I had three friends: the worm, the butterfly and the nightingale who sang all night for me alone One day there came a boy He crushed the worm under his boot He caught the butterfly He frightened the nightingale away Then he plucked me and put me in his breast In a little while he was tired of me and threw me away Now I lie here in the cold, wet grass and look up at the night sky the stars are shining so stern and hard and far away Very soon I'll go to them O wicked boy! Why pluck me from my garden only to throw me away? 14
But I'll make you pay For while you were keeping me tucked in your breast I stuck a thorn I drove it deep into your heart You won't ever be able to pluck it out Now you are mine forever.....
ANGELS OVER BERLIN
Not every angel is terrible There are good angels and bad angels One must learn to distinguish There are angels that stand at the door of the dead They've only come to take us home Still we fear their company Angels who sit and wait their hands in their golden laps for us to make a mistake then rush in where all others fear to tread Bad angels lead us astray into gleaming gardens of fake flowers Know a bad angel by his charm and by his sense of humour The good in bright armour clank about the sky throttle nightmares and thrust man-hungry demons down to hell
The best pity us weep for our sins Sit down beside us in our sorrow and touch us with gentle hands They carry our love - that heavy burden All the way up the sky And bring us gifts we cannot see or touch and do not value much and cast away Then spread their wings a canopy of light above our sleep
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
Do you remember the taste of my lips? The roses that strewed our path the light to our feet? Do you remember honey cakes in the grass and sticky hands unwilling to part Do you remember, my Heart? How kind you were to me then! How good Showed me things in the wood birds' nests and fairy rings When I cried you kissed me Laughed and called me 'little Sister' He knows everything, I thought He can do anything Do you remember our dance? Do you remember our song? And the shadows at twilight purple and long? The little white bed where we lay and the magic we used to say to make the moon rise and the fairies come out to play The stars that shone so bright The secrets whispered at night The Angel who stood at the foot of our bed The place on your shoulder where I always laid my head
Asleep in my starry tent Asleep in my blue white skin I am a rose of Sharon I am a tower of ivory I am a vessel of gold I sleep but my heart waketh within Open to me, my Sister, my Bride! He has placed a crown of heavy gold on my head A pearl of price in my mouth I cannot move nor speak nor turn my eyes How then shall I rise and let thee in? His voice in the rain and the rocks His voice in the thunder His voice in the tender birds in the wind and the water Open to me, my Dove, my Undefiled! His head is wet with the dew He has brought me the moon and the stars to play with His hand is upon the lock Open to me, my Sister, my Bride! with myrhh-dropping fingers I go to the door 19
IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK
We're feeding on lilies and lobster salad at three a.m. happy humbled sodden satiate most horribly in love hungry after all that larking about Funny, I think how something so raunchy so animal blue can be so true the soul hanging by a thread the heart a red balloon about to burst eyes drowned senses stunned and your hungry wolf's head howling Look at you now shine like the moon over the dark kitchen table As for me, I'm too happy to move too happy to speak (but not too happy to eat) my feet in your lap and my elbows on the table
I made a cake with sugar and eggs and cream On the cake I drew a heart lieblich und zart so wie Du I wrote your name on it too This was my dream of the cake I wanted to bake For you
NOT A DEDICATION
Not to your lips Not to your eyes Not to be silly Not to be wise Not overwhelmed by your multifarious charms Not about to lie down in your arms Not one bit in love with you Don't be absurd Not one single line for you Not one word
LULLABY (FOR MY BABY)
Hush, my little boy Don't you cry Mama's gonna love you by and by By and by Oh by and by Mama's gonna love you by and by The stars be shining by and by The moon be shining by and by Every man is born to die by and by oh by and by Hush, my little boy Don't you cry Jesus gonna take you home by and by
Grace Andreacchi was born and raised in New York City but has lived on the far side of the great ocean for many years - sometimes in Paris, sometimes Berlin, and nowadays in London. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear (Andromache Books), Give my Heart Ease, which received the New American Writing Award, and Music for Glass Orchestra. Stories and poetry appear in both on-line and print journals. Her work can be viewed at graceandreacchi.com.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR Poetry and Fear by Grace Andreacchi A short novel written in poetic and elliptical prose, rich in emotion, sometimes playful, sometimes tragic. Set in the opera world of Berlin just after the fall of the Wall, 'Poetry and Fear' is a gripping tale of spiritual love and pain and the whole damn thing. Orpheus singing in the Underworld. The melancholy Queen of Spain. For everyone who's ever been there, or wants to be.... Scarabocchio by Grace Andreacchi To jump into a coach in the depths of the night, to run away from the oppression of one's delightful and highly-placed friends, one's work, fame, fortune, obligations and plunge headlong into the great adventure, careering over the Alps, aiming for the bright golden heart of civilisation, the only baggage one's poetical discontent... Add to this the Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach, a fascination with murderous Sicilian puppets, a runaway diva, Beethoven's other nephew (the one who also shot himself in the head but, unlike Carl, appears, at least partially, to have survived), a catalogue of child murders and possible murderers, a treatise on the beauty of imaginary architecture and the golden section and you begin to get some idea of Scarabocchio. A piece of dizzying metafiction, a whirlwind journey through Sicily with an iconic German poet, a Canadan Bach specialist, a runaway diva and many others...
Available from andromachebooks.co.uk