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Silence is the language in Lipiu


As with love
poems are born
in silence
only that unfeeling silence
has a habit
of giving birth
and swallowing its young.


In Lipiu you study silence
as if it were a foreign language
and if you practice enough
you can tell the dialect
of day from the heavy accent
of night.
You learn the birds by heart
and the light that alters
the meaning of nothing.
You will never be able
to express yourself freely in this language
but you will always be surprised by its truth.
You read the trees, the mountains in the original.
You ask: What do I have to say in this language?
The wounded animal deep inside you doesn't answer.
It stays silent.


Today the rain broke out
in a flood of incomprehensible curses.
On the TV screen humans
move around without sound:
bodies, smiles, embraces,
handshakes, the tying of ties, punches...
I couldn’t hear the words
and the bureaucracy of existence
seemed absurd.
Why, why him, the sweet, absent-minded one?
With what does passion agree?
It seems I have forgotten the syntax
of youth.


In the taverna garden
it is spring and the blossoming
chestnut trees lean attentively
over the pensioners.
Beards, mustaches, all white,
a little laughter in their faded
blue eyes peeking out behind the beer froth
the slender waitress
like a doll just out of her box
with the divine department store tag
still around her neck.


In this languageless world
where I have come for mute studies
the exercises are deafening;
I know my silence
doesn't flow yet,
doesn't flow naturally.


                         Munich, May 2000

Translated by KAREN Van  DYCK