Günter Grass: “Flood”


We are waiting for the rain to stop,
though we have grown accustomed
to standing behind a curtain, to being invisible.
Spoons have turned into sieves, no one dares
to reach a hand out to anyone else.

Many things are drifting through the streets,
things people hid away in the dry season.
How embarrassing to see your neighbor’s old bed.

We stand now facing the water gauge,
comparing our worries like watches.
Some things can be regulated.
But if the tanks overflow,
if the measure we have inherited fills,
we will have to pray.

The basement is flooded,
we’ve carried up boxes,
checking their contents against the list.
Nothing has been lost so far.
We know the water will fall again.
We’ve begun to sew umbrellas.

It will be hard to cross the street once more,
standing out, our shadows heavy as lead.
At first, we will miss our little curtain
and go back to the cellar often
to consider the mark
the water has left us.

Günter Grass

Translated from German by Paul Weinfield, © 2015

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