“what is poetry?”

by Ulrike Draesner
          translated from German by Iain Galbraith

cleaning vacuuming wiping runny noses a scraped knee
stroking tummy to put them to sleep or when it’s sore
singing bedtime songs spreading one’s legs being
responsive consoling stuffing dirty washing in the drum
for the tenth time fishing pubic hair out of a drain
closing the toilet lid clearing mugs the entire family
has left on top of the dishwasher into the machine
cursing but inaudibly pondering the parenting
of men abandoning all parenting and bending to feed
the dog playing parcheesi like a total noodle
locking oneself in the bathroom at last pandemonium
one minute later: wiping snot spreading a jam sandwich
picking jam sandwich out the shagpile washing
their swimsuits not having set a foot out all day
hunting the housekey admiring then despising
multitasking misheard as mummitasking shovelling
a dead bird off the windowledge not finding it
icky taking it to the garden taking in the solar storm
butterflies the stuff they’ve left by the pond (which
is desperately in need of cleaning) dragonflies
a secondslong re
flection: oneself
            bleary, small
            a child showing its
            white teeth, your teeth

            it is your body
            you have no better words
            for what you see, vital
            and detached
            from yourself
            knowing more about you than you

can bear and it says: my love
for you is deeper than a forest

it says: dark is the inside of the mouth
and everything that thinks