Plantain

Poetry of the performance-based film • www.plantain-themovie.de

© VestAndPage 2016

(Deutsche Übersetzung hier)

 

ENTER

 

 

May 7th

 

There is a crack in the house of history,

Where time past and time present leak out

And time future slides into.

 

There is a wound in the womb of history

A scar that never heals

For no one can get close.

 

So then you say: "This is the place."

One of many, where it was,

There, where "here, I am" is no more.

 

We let the stars

And a few distant lights

Flickering upon the fields.

 

 

May 8th

 

It is always time to leave:

A painted sky of dirt and love,

Houses ablaze heedless of the wind,

 

Aerosol of oil and kerosene:

A darkened heavy cloud.

 

As a calf stretched by its legs

Pulled away by force

Out of the bleeding cut on its mother's side.

 

It is now evening:

A slim pillow of hay, another day goes by,

We, alert. The same weight on our backs.

 

Dragged by time. Time-worn.

By time consumed. Burned.

Meanwhile, the track resumes.

 

 

MINNA

 

May 9th

 

Beyond the hills, over there,

I imagine the sun, in white

Swinging on a seesaw.

 

The morning still, a newly born mother dies, a story like another.

We proceed, move on, and keep going.

In silence, just murmuring.

How long it might last.

 

May 10th

 

A way too far:

A way too long,

I have been told.

 

Stuck at half of a story

Where one half is never

And the other is bejewelled, deceitfully.

 

I come close,

I talk to you in private, of our private,

And this, perhaps, still matters.

 

 

May 11th

 

Pain grows through the body,

It slips, runs, slides from leg to shoulder,

Crawls through collar bones, knees, joints and tendons.

 

Flows in the water that stagnates on the pavements,

It creeps in the shadow of my breath

Amber waits to case.

 

I do not need to watch documentaries,

I'm carrying history

within myself.

 

 

May 12th

 

We drink the thought of wine,

We question each other on fundaments:

"What do you remember?"

 

 

May 13th

 

The bell-tower of yet another ghost town, the abandoned mine fields:

Beware of my belt, longing for sweetness

I look back in hunger.

 

 

May 14th

 

He was buried right here, for twenty years or more,

Then his body was removed from the soil.

Who knows where he’s gone.

 

White clouds, blue skies and the sun

Shining bright over a shore

Still unable to reach and see.

 

Today I can barely move my feet,

I need a wooden stick,

Carved with my dreams.

 

 

May 15th

 

I look at the photos that I had put in my pocket before leaving.

It looks like the stories have been wiped out of them.

History has blocked our story.

 

We pass a lake, in the distance the dome

Of a destroyed church in its waters reflected, like a nibbled cake.

An injured boy is humming a song, cannot remember the words.

 

(Only) One woman left: one, instead of three.

The fourth, she’s said: sometimes in black sometimes in white.

She plays chess. She dances blindly to the tune of an old lullaby.

 

 

May 16th

 

A pond along the stream:

"Take just a few things with you:

We’ll be away only eight days, maybe fourteen."

 

We leave our house behind.

We join the others.

I hear two men talking close by me:

 

"Sir, do you know who was Kant?

Do you know what is pure reason?

Do you know what is existence?"

 

"No, I don’t remember.

But I recall that someone told me.

Is it going to end?"

 

 

FRIEDRICH

 

May 17th

 

An old man with a grey beard welcomes us.

He tells us of his home, built three centuries ago,

Aching for the mansion and the farmland of his parents.

 

His sons have gone for months now:

He says: “South West, to reach the future.

One day I’ll transform this house into a school."

 

The old man cannot leave it,

For his home as for a spell

Doesn’t allow him to leave the left.

 

 

May 18th

 

I remember the big key of wrought iron

That opened the door

to the secret garden behind our house.

 

Now, which door is opening before us?

Rooms of a dark time:

the scar of history.

 

The creak of a rocking chair:

Someone says that one is still living here.

But who knows when he’ll be back.

 

 

May 19th

 

The winds are blowing harder now: an unstoppable army.

I’d like to be a thief and steal fire from Earth’s womb.

To warm us all, but there is no fire to steal, only to dodge.

 

She was used to taking the train

For the coast to buy fresh fish;

I do not know if I can ever do the same.

 

 

May 20th

 

The men are moving trunks to free the way,

While time and death waltz on hills of ashes

And burnt trees.

 

We climb and walk towards the shore,

Our time behind and death close

In, for and rear, whilst we watch what is.

 

A desperate stagnation,

There is some beauty in all this.

 

 

May 21st

 

When one sees a low smoke along the way

It is the sign of a city that has just been erased.

We try to overcome fear by listing names of old friends.

 

We talk about our families,

Live flights of fancy with our imagination,

Recall the books we have read.

 

 

May 22nd

 

"Where are you?"

We have to trace a new path now.

Go tell grandma and auntie.

 

We take small steps,

all the same,

but where to?

 

 

May 23rd

 

My legs both hurt, in remarkably different ways, for different injuries.

My boots are consumed.

Each step feels like parting bits of broken glass with bare feet.

 

Is a wound a sign, an obliged passageway towards shelter and healing?

Man is bound to lie and forget about himself

When there is a loss of direction.

 

The Baltic sunset: nightfall, again. We reach a lighthouse.

Here, the sea climbs its coast half a meter a year.

If I’ll ever return I’d like to see this lighthouse lit.

 

 

May 24th

 

The beach is long and endlessly white.

 

 

May 25th

 

Every day we are born with the dead.

Every day we are dying with the dying.

We cross an abandoned airfield and its uniform greyness. Children's playgrounds.

 

Have we been laying here for hours or for years?

Thrown and found, to freeze or to thaw

So long, we'll become derelict petals.

 

Will I be ever home again with you?

I have never known sleep like this creeping slumber;

Colours like this morning reveals this to me.

 

Flesh turns cold calmly,

Your hand in my hand so still and discreet,

I watch the cattle, fearful.

 

There is nothing left of the place I lived, tall grass grows here now.

Perhaps this is how love feels:

To love without possessing what once I believed was mine.

GERDA

 

May 26th

 

To feel displaced is like breathing out, not breathing in.

 

I listen into myself: one time, twice, three times.

Where am I? I’ve gone, and I’m still looking back.

Disruption. Interruption. One step. Interrupted again.

 

We take a break. Can we go now? I ask a third time.

Actually there is no break, only another way round, or up,

But not down. Another step, interrupted again.

 

We search and still we are on the run.

Run, run, run the other way round.

One, two, three times again.

 

I don’t know where we are,

Wherever, I suppose.

 

We are living the opposite of what is called beginning.

All the while we struggle to stay afloat.

We breathe out and look to the past, we lift, breathe in and head to the future.

 

How can we recover? And where?

Interrupted again, and again, and again

All alone we run towards nothing.

 

Low voices, loud voices, uncertain movements.

We all go together, so why

Oppose one another?

 

It comes to pieces. It falls to pieces. We fall apart.

What is that which behind these merciless hours

I still have to hold on to? Love?

 

 

May 27th

 

We move onto paths that have been marked by devils and saints,

The sound of planes first close and then far,

We outlive yet another frosty night.

 

I dream

of my forests

and the endless expanses of yellow rapeseed flowers.

 

 

May 28th

 

I help an elderly woman in her struggle to walk.

Today it seems to me that there are more stains in heaven and earth,

Than are dreamed of in all philosophy.

 

 

May 29th

 

A woman in black approaches us

Silent tears in her eyes

She whispers, someone over there is dying.

 

Another pulls out of his trunk an old violin

And begins to play.

The notes chased by the sound of the sea.

 

His dignified solitude appears to me so magnificent:

Like a ray of light that cuts our darkness in half.
I imagine lifting each fallen tree with my hands.

 

 

May 30th

 

On the road again, to a land that is not there,

To a country that is no more.

We always find ourselves in the place of the non-place.

 

A glimpse and I see mounds of thousands burned shoes.

 

 

May 31st

 

The lagoon: a large open grave.

 

 

FRANZ

 

June 1st

 

What is left is just wondering, wandering on.

 

 

June 2nd

 

I connect the objective to the ineffable, This path has no end.

 

 

June 3rd

 

None of us can return to the beginning,

 

Here, whatever concept comes to an end.

 

 

June 4th

 

And are the answers that I seek

Recorded in the stones as the layers of time?

We’ve been where no one ever has. 

 

Man shall never desire to look at that which

The Gods obliterate with darkness and horror.

We have been in a world that is unimaginably alien to any outsiders. 

 

In the hour in which people have to prove themselves

and show that they are humans,

They turn into animals.

 

Honoured by and carried away

Like a guardian angel or a holy ghost,

He won’t question any longer.

 

Once I was one, now I’m a new one, another.

If I will outlive tomorrow,

I'll be new still, with everything else forgotten.

 

 

June 5th

 

I have not one, but two shadows.

One is white, invisible to the eye,

A thread that sews history.

 

She marks the march of time

And travels to and from

Even though her time stands still.

 

The other one is black,

Bearing omens, loss and dreams

Which then do not come true.

 

Her task is to close chapters,

When the next one will begin,

And the previous is now gone.

 

 

June 6th

 

If I could make a clean sweep

With the ashes of my experiences,

I could draw new perspectives, year after year.

 

Then, there is only silence.

 

I don’t remember, I don’t recall.

I have neither an idea nor a memory of anything at all.

 

 

June 7th

 

It is always said a little well,

Barely whispered, in a low voice,

As if no one were to hear.

 

Many women were raped.

We had to hide the young ones.

We had to feed them secretly.

 

Many years have passed since then.

I'm walking on - a frozen lake - and so resurfaces

Everything I - had experienced - while crossing the lagoon.

 

 

June 8th

 

We were escaping on a carriage pulled by - two horses -.

One was a racehorse, the other a - white stallion -.

The coachman was - French -.

 

I saw mother jumping down from the carriage,

- Pull the reins - from the driver and divert the horses from the - breaking ice -.

One day I noticed that - the racehorse - was gone.

 

When you’re a child,

you see so many things that you should not see,

But there are also many things that escape you.

 

There was - left only - the white stallion.

Then one day - our carriage - did not move anymore

And we had to continue - on foot -.

 

Many years later - my brother - told me

That - the white stallion - was dead

And that he had eaten it to survive.

 

When we were walking on - the ice -

I saw carriages in front of me

Sinking beneath the - ice’s surface -.

 

Mother told me that they did so

Because they took a - shortcut -

To get through to the - other side of the lagoon - faster.

 

When once I asked her why we did not - do the same -,

She answered that she did not want us

- To catch more cold - than we already had 

 

 

GERTRUD

 

June 9th

 

We continue.

"We must go there!"

Where? It makes no difference.

 

It makes no difference to me now

Whether the world ever existed

Or whether there was nothing to begin with.

 

I have begun to feel that with me was nothing.

There had been a lot before, or nothing either.

It makes no difference to me now.

 

A little girl seizes me by the elbow.

She is about seven years old,

In just a little coat, soaked, with torn shoes.

 

She doesn’t cry.

I resist chasing her away.

She keeps running beside me and wouldn’t leave.

 

She doesn’t cry.

I bent over the body.

I rummage in the pockets of the threadbare coat.

 

I find only a cameo of amber.

I give it to the girl: "Never lose it," I say to her.

No voice for tears.

 

 

June 10th

 

We are in movement but we cannot move.

 

While I’m there I realise that from now on

I won’t be able to put my fear into words anymore:

By now, I’ve swallowed it so many times that it has become something else.

 

 

KARL

 

Morse code: I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

 

We supply food, gasoline and weapons.

The winter: - 47°. Command, "Frozen Meat".

Aircrafts blocking the narrow runways, aircrafts breaking apart from the cold.

 

My frozen fingers clutch the screwdriver.

We are still flying in blind flight.

5:20 am. Christmas eve.

 

We don’t know where the shootings are coming from in that fog.

We are waiting for the command, "Are we finally allowed to leave now?"

Time passes. No one is able to act. Panic.

 

The next thirty minutes, un-precedent and un-proceeded.

Low Clouds, within one’s reach. Snow and ice whirled up by wheels.

Sight impaired at fifty metres.

 

Full speed, into the unknown, overloaded with munitions and jerry cans.

Flying, burning debris.

Everything depends on the prowess of our pilot now.

 

We lost half the aircrafts in less than fifteen minutes.

I had to stay for days in the cauldron.

The last horses had been eaten.

 

Morse code: Where are you?

 

June 11th

 

Remember me, but forget my fate.

Remember my spirit, but forget my past.

Remember me in silence, and then forget all you can.

 

Morse code: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

 

 

TUTTI

 

Vlada’s story:

 

When we were little, we would often go to my grandparents’ house.

They had a big, round table and beautiful bentwood chairs around it.

Each member of the family knew where their place was.

We would go there for holidays and celebrations.

My grandmother would lay out a beautiful table cloth,

Arrange a vase of flower and serve delicious food.

She would cook potatoes: a simple meal, which she loved.

With cabbage, cucumbers, beetroot salad, cutlets, …

We were always very glad to go there and taste her delicious cooking.

Then, after dinner, grandmother would say, “Let’s sing.” And we’d all begin.

Grandfather would play his small accordion.

First, we all sang together at the table, then grandmother would go to the corridor,

Put up her hair, put on her shoes, go out and dance.

Grandfather would play, and she would sing Chastushki.

For me, home is where a big family is,

Sitting at the table, eating, talking, and going to a concert all together.

Where everyone cheers. This is for me the most important thing in a family,

That everybody is happy, talking, singing and dancing.

And now, this castle is home to me.

 

When two systems collide the result is chaos and loss of understanding.

Now I must dislodge knowledge, in order to make room for new beliefs

All the while, with patience.

 

June 12th

 

Theatre workers discussing in Russian on stage

 

If the world were to end today,

What are the final lines to write,

Or the last words to say?

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

As I hold his hand,

I try to stop myself from shaking,

I almost told him everything.

 

I got as far as saying that I was to blame

For what I lived

Thus these things that happened couldn’t be my fault.

 

As my fingers grip the wheels

Of my chair that hardly moves

I re-call mother and listen to her saying nothing.

 

It began with her, my life,

Until they came, from the harsh lights in the sky,

And took her beyond the border.

 

We were in the living room, the parents on the couch.

"In this moment of your life you can’t have friends

Because you would lose them all."

 

He never warned us about what was going on,

We were kids.

But that day was different.

 

It’s been decades now

Since they have gone,

But last night was as if they were here.

 

In half sleep I saw them standing just a bit away.

Mother in a black dress and boots with strings,

Her face pale, but with a smile.

 

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

 

I tried to remember how long ago

Was the day that we began to escape.

So goes the war.

 

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

  

VestAndPage, Plantain. Still from the film, 2018.

© 2020 VestAndPage