Max Sessner

In the Café

This dog
how he looks at me
as if we must have known each other
I pay and
we chat a little longer
once we were
like brothers he says
and lays his paw
on my knee that was
long ago and if you
don’t remember anymore
I can understand
but I still see
everything before me
as if it were yesterday
the old hick town
and us forever young
but in the end
I — mouth still full
of morning air — totalled
the car and myself
your grief was great
and your tears genuine
many years have
vanished and today
what a surprise
we run into
each other again
do you have children
are you a happy man
tell me fast before we
lose each other
again someone is already
pulling on my leash
and what about you
shouldn’t you already
be home
by now

MAX SESSNER was born in 1959 in Fürth, Germany. He lives with his wife in Augsburg and has worked as a bookseller, for the department of public health, and for the Augsburg public library. Sessner is the author of eight books of poetry including Das Wasser von Gestern (edition Azur, 2019), Warum Gerade Heute (Literaturverlag Droschl, 2012) and Küchen und Züge (Literaturverlag Droschl, 2005). Among other honors, he was awarded the 2019 Rotahorn Literary Prize.

Author’s Website

About the Translator:

FRANCESCA BELL is a poet and translator. Her debut collection, Bright Stain (Red Hen Press, 2019), was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Julie Suk Award. She translated a selection of Max Sessner’s poems, Whoever Drowned Here (Red Hen Press, 2023), from its original German. Her poems and translations appear in New Ohio Review, North American Review, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. She lives with her family in Novato, California.

Translator’s Website

More by Max Sessner

Poems by Max Sessner in B O D Y
Poem in Waxwing
Poems in Rattle here, here, and here