“I care not to trouble you in regard to opium—although I hope wholeheartedly that you will
obtain it for me within the next few days. In Georg’s face and mood you will see a faint reflection
of my pain.”
–Letter from Grete Trakl to Erhard Buschbeck
Brother, your mouth sweet as a bunch of drowning violets, makes its
pronouncement. Will you tell me to shift my weight more slowly, evenly, so as
not to tip? I am deathly pale on my raft of sticks. River water, barely moving, a
perfume of hyacinth and rotten eggs. Where are your hands so I can press them to
my forehead? Your tears wet my face yet the thirst remains as if I’d drunk soiled
lace. I throw a tantrum.
The rain again, a steamy drizzle. Mold shimmies from the air. Black heat fills
every breathable space. I come looking for you. Remember how my fingers were
measured? What a mild odor the dead world has. Not animal. Like soggy
wallpaper. There’s no music here. No arpeggios, no double notes. The sun shines
through the rain. The sun never goes out; it squeezes every wet morsel from my
body. My limbs crack. I bite my splintery tongue and taste a salty mineral. Red
Around me the black water shows off its beautiful hot skin. A blue woman floats
by and turns her pale eyes on me. Have you seen him? I shout loud for the cock-
lofts to hear. Georg Trakl? Only stillness travels from my lips. A second sun
rises, and the clouds part for it. I hunger for your voice reading aloud to me.
Brother, I can’t hear myself breathe. I do not breathe and yet I see. A white lotus
blossom sun blooms and so hot you can watch it curling down the neck of the sky.
I jump into the scalding river, but even in the heaviness of my brocade burial
dress I do not sink. A needle-fish drifts by, its spearlike teeth alive. Swarms of
silent flies. Brother, I’ve forgotten how to close my eyes. I’ll count my way back
into our childhood where at 11 and 15 we played duets, where we lay in my bed
naked yet pure as pear-flesh, now our shadow selves hover clothed in their fiery
drizzle—blue milkweed pods with broken necks.