The roses taste rancid-red–
it’s a sour summer in the world
Berries ink-swollen and lambskin
rough on the parchment
A raspberry fire extinguished–
it’s an ash summer in the world
Eyelids lowered, people walk back
and forth along the rose-rusted river
They are waiting for the dove’s mail
delivered from a strange summer in the world
where the bridge made of pedantic metals
can only be entered marching left-right-left
The swallow doesn’t find south–
it’s a blind summer in the world
My mother was a deer
grace an amulet
gleaming her deerlife
Part angel part human
my mother flickers at the center
the time I ask what she wanted to be
She is saying: a nightingale
Now she’s a nightingale
I hear night after night in the garden
of my sleepless dream:
she sings the Zion of our ancestors
she sings long-ago Austria
she sings the mountains and beech forests
after night my nightingale sings
in the garden of my sleepless dream
Come, let’s go soundless into evening
diving deeper into the forest of night,
where stars loom high and white as lilies
and a fairytale mouth still awakes in the moon.
We are not at home here. There is no room
large enough to hold our longing.
To enter the dream, we climb a thousand stairs.
God shrouds the light in a thousand colors.
Rose Ausländer was a Jewish poet born in 1901 in what was then Austria and is now known as Czernowitz in Ukraine. She is the author of several poetry collections and wrote and translated in both German and English. Ausländer lived most of her life between East Europe and New York City and eventually lived in the Nelly Sacks House in Düsseldorf. She died on January 3, 1988.
The poem “In the Dream” is from her first volume, Der Regenbogen (The Rainbow), which was published in 1939 by a Rumanian publishing house in a 400-print run that was almost entirely destroyed in 1941 as Nazism took hold in the region. The poems “Blind Summer” and “My Nightingale” appear in her second collection, Blinder Sommer (Blind Summer), which was published in 1965 in Vienna, Austria, and draws on themes of her experience living through two world wars and her exile years in New York City.
Carlie Hoffman is the author of When There Was Light (Four Way Books, 2023) and This Alaska (Four Way Books, 2021), winner of the NCPA Gold Award in poetry and a finalist for the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Award. A poet and translator, her honors include a “Discovery” / Boston Review prize and a Poet’s & Writers Amy Award. Carlie is the founder and editor-in-chief of Small Orange Journal.
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