absence or a record of the creation of a fabulous animal

By Gisela Kraft 1936–2010 Gisela Kraft

Translated By Laura Leichum Read the translator's notes

on the first day you were beautiful and good
on the second you grew a horn
on the third a lead-gray wing budded
from your shoulder
on the fourth a claw sprouted from your shoe
on the fifth you flew
right into my armpit
built a nest and then lost interest
on the sixth you were a host of leeches
having their way with my veins
on the seventh I heard you
trotting above me with hollow hoof beats
on the eighth you went to moses to ask for advice
winged horned buraq the prophet’s steed
returned as a lamb on the ninth
to graze on my belly fur
on the tenth you died for isaac
the angel decided in favor of animal testing
on the eleventh I had forgotten the color of your eyes
on the twelfth day you were poor and naked
on the thirteenth you were lying on the bottom of the sea
a millions of eons old whispering mussel
on the fourteenth they called you into the field
duldul, ali’s tireless gray mule
on the fifteenth you stood still
welded on the lip of a kettle
the sweat of the holy brew had oxidized
your copper neck
on the sixteenth you were the primordial ox
zarathustra sang of your suffering
on the seventeenth day when I came home
you were once again the one human being

Source: Poetry (March 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2010
 Gisela   Kraft

Biography

Gisela Kraft was born in Berlin and lived in Weimar, Germany. She is the author of several works of poetry and prose, and a notable translator of Turkish literature into German. In 2009, she was awarded the Christoph-Martin-Wieland-Übersetzer-preis for Namen der Sehnsucht, her translation of Turkish poet Nâzim
Hikmet.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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