Shoe-Polish                      Marcel Beyer


Polish, in perfect state,

cracked on the edges,

brittle yet black, steady now


they rub them, Bert, Bertha, Lenny, Martha,

Walter from their early age, shine those shoes,

evenly, burnish them to perfection


it holds, it holds not, but the leather already

glistens, broken shoe laces, I'm half an ancestor,

half a supporting role with black fingernails


and a half sentence on the lips, for in a fully

false place, that's how one rubs the time, like

me, away, over the steady worn out skin,


brittle tone, one rubs more, ever

more, steady sound, the other half, and one leaves

the skin, tanned, soft


and finally there, where shined

leather disappears, I am

not there, I am stowed away in the box.


translated by Natalija Grgorinic & Ognjen Raden