Volker Sielaff


Shadows enlivened by the moon
like a load of night-fish
and especially with a full moon

When you yank up the blinds
they escape you
(that happens fast, the waters

are deep.)
Night-fish can be rolled up
until the next morning:

When the blinds
crash down
                    they’re gone.

— Translated from the German by Mark Terrill



The moon, is that
there really the moon—
asks the child.

In this place, says the child,
there are many gods, even
the clever God:
To him you can pray,
he tells you something.

There are days, says the child,
when God is not even God, when
the moon is also not the moon.

There the night is a large
ball, on which you can walk
until you’re tired.

— Translated from the German by Mark Terrill


VOLKER SIELAFF was born in Sachsen, Germany, in 1966 and lives in Dresden, Germany. His poems, essays and criticism have appeared widely, and his poems have been translated into ten different languages. His work was included in the anthology Twentieth Century German Poetry, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, 2005), and his collection of poetry, Postkarte für Nofretete was awarded with the Lessing Prize in 2005.

About the Translator:

MARK TERRILL is an American poet, writer, and translator living in Germany since 1984. His translations of Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Jörg Fauser, Nicolas Born, Silke Scheuermann, and others have appeared in many journals, as well as in several full-length collections, chapbooks, and broadsides. He was guest editor for the German Poetry edition of the Atlanta Review (Volume XV, Issue Number 2, 2009).

Read more by Volker Sielaff:

Two poems at B O D Y