Little Aster

By Gottfried Benn Gottfried Benn

Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann Read the translator's notes

A drowned drayman was hoisted on to the slab.
Someone had jammed a lavender aster
between his teeth.
As I made the incision up from the chest
with a long knife
under the skin
to cut out tongue and gums,
I must have nudged it because it slipped
into the brain lying adjacent.
I packed it into the thoracic cavity
with the excelsior
when he was sewn up.
Drink your fill in your vase!
Rest easy,
little aster!

Source: Poetry (March 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2011

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