September

August Kleinzahler

The long-beleaguered home team,
black hats and orange piping,
is eliminated on a cool night,
the very end of September,
with the phlox zerspalten by rain,
as Benn wrote,
and giving forth a strange animal smell,
seltsamen Wildgeruchs.

While the neighbouring team
from across the Bay,
the ones with green leggings,
younger and more brazen,
were finished earlier still, after the clamour
attending their mid-summer surge.

Frucht-und Fieberschwellungen
abfallend . . .
Even the strongest
of young arms
tires over a long season.
Tumescences of fruit and fever . . .
Knees give out, just as the parapets
of Troy rear into sight.

What do the sky and gardens know
of such disappointments?
Of the quiet on the street,
life ebbing from barrooms like a yeasty tide?
Go home, everyone go home.
The cupped flame,
the extended sigh of smoke in the shadows
of a hundred doorways.
Go home to your wives, go home.

Why must it always end this way,
every year the same?
It is only we who change, Time
eroding our powers –
des Sommers Narr, Nachplapperer,
summer’s fool, jabberer –
putting to rout our boyish hopes.

And even with the air so sharp
once night has settled in –
vor dir der Schnee, Hochschweigen
when the season’s first hearth fires
mingle their exhalations
with night-blooming vegetation,
snow and silence ahead of you,

the sun next day pours down
with such intent as if it could surpass
what only it might emulate,
its counterfeit betrayed
by the very merest wash of bronze

enveloping the Chinese lantern,
jasmine and flowering lavender
in a memorial glow
while, still, they bloom, thrive, reach
up, upwards, toward the light
and out from amidst the withered stalks and ruin
of what summer has left behind.