Poetry at Sangam



SHAME1 by Birgit Kempker

(Translated from the German by Robert Kelly and Birgit Kempker)

I put the spell on you is the sentence about shame that I hear. I hear: Not the same. Knot the seed, semen. Notate the name. I thought a spell was what the body spits between somebody`s legs. The skull cracks in the fire, oracle bone. The bush of the body ranches out at the other end along the Ganges. The soul climbs. The schoolboy holds his hand, long ago grown numb, up in the air forever. // He seems to ask, To leave this room. The answer is the question. // His hand holds his promise. His fingernails curl around his arm. Malice is a flower evacuated on the body. Many such flowers blossom in great remoteness from the action. Blossom is translation from spelling. Reading means: to make room for fear. The flourishing of wounds attracts jackals. Among people, if I want to feel attracted by somebody, I try to make them feel shame. The shame, when I confront myself is the shame when I confront my soul. The soul is an invention to keep me from feeling ashamed of my death.

(Excerpted from Scham/Shame by Birgit Kempker/Robert Kelly)