I’m reading Gottfried Benn for the first time while dark seeps into the last day of January.
The sun lights up the clouds from below the horizon.
From Benn’s Icarus I learn a new word: decerebrated.
My head is a heavy drum played by the pulse in my ears.
(I could have invoked my sphygmic ossicles).
Benn was the house doctor in a brothel and then a pathologist.
He wrote what he knew:
venereal scars bearing the faces of Cerberus,
paying a dancer with the gold from a dead whore’s molar,
drowning a nest of rats evicted from the chest of a young girl’s body, too long in the rushes,
living each beast day hour by water hour.
And his Icarus, the bloodied one, who lit up and alighted upon the earth like the flare and toss of a match.
I’ve knelt, chin to chest, and begged for benediction.
I’ve waved off the angels.
Now he’s saying that what’s bad is the surf that beats the shore the same way, holiday or not.
Now he’s saying that what’s bad is not to die on a long summer day when the earth yields easily to the spade.
Now he’s planting an aster in a corpse.
Was it night or the sun that just fell around me?
The dark smells of blue oil and iron and frozen rose petals exhumed by the wind.
I’m folding a paper flower from this final note.