by Kathrin Schmidt

birds have got these world-counteracting smart-alec
knacks: techno-turbojet shoulders and hup…
they alone got plucked off lesbos on the salty
sea breeze, while the wingless and flightless were powerless,
even to get a mention in the press. feeling guilty
about my rightful guiltlessness, i ate nonetheless
and drank, played scrabble, slept in.
lesbos under a swollen, bloated sun –
i saw it chocabloc with sentry towers
and darkest depths. defensive, on the beach at usedom
i wore a total riot of bathing attire. swimming
in the sea. diving for mussels. lovely
way to spend time, i thought, as a breeze came up too
and massaged my skin. once dry i lounged later
on the beach, a hand across my eyes. unaltered
the swollen, bloated sun, lesbos just like over on usedom,
hi-tech birdflight between them.


Usedom is a German holiday island destination that was popular among working people in the former GDR. This poem is translated from German by Sue Vickerman.