Grants, beginnings and a suitcase full of notes.

Joseph Beuys, The Pack, 1969.

At Thirty-three
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

It was all so different from what she’d expected.
Always those rusting Volkswagens.
At one time she’d almost married a baker.
First she read Hesse, then Handke.
Now often she does crosswords in bed.
With her, men take no liberties.
For years she was a Trotskyist, but in her own way.
She’s never handled a ration card.
When she thinks of Kampuchea she feels quite sick.
Her last lover, the professor, always wanted her to beat him.
Greenish batik dresses, always too wide for her.
Greenflies on her Sparmannia.
Really she wanted to paint, or emigrate.
Her thesis, Class Struggles in Ulm 1500
to 1512 and References to them in Folksong
:
Grants, beginnings and a suitcase full of notes.
Sometimes her grandmother sends her money.
Tentative dances in her bathroom, little grimaces,
cucumber juice for hours in front of the mirror.
She says, whatever happens I shan’t starve.
When she weeps she looks like nineteen.

Translated from the German by Michael Hamburger

From Michael Hofmann (ed.), The Faber Book of 20th-Century German Poems.

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