Paul Celan’s Telephone Number

(Paris late June 1948, I saw you)
no photos.

At least of all ‘us’ seeing through walls
inner gardens of other people’s houses.
Could not look directly. Preter-form, bleached
the fingers off all the gloves.

Forward toward your family reunions
where they ask where you came from again. I delight
in your song – no other this than this
standing in line buying fruit, failing
to protect ourselves from heat.

I had only myself to think about, and words to count.
Lament for the ones who left. I’ve left my nose bleeds
and bleeding lies. Am I the last receiver, some other
I won’t say.

We met those caverns and in
them                    echoes. Tender as suitcases,
the train conductor’s moustache. How would we
so separately bind                 arduous that’s how;
will you come or won’t you
on this ground patent
publish the marvellous YOU full of germs to speak
with you another room without a door

Open suitcase but only one dress
I wore it yesterday
the day before
my rooms sallow with you and your smell
from which I believed I was always safe.
Side by side you always on my hair
my body
lies I had written for you.

Knots underneath SAY third party SAY
which wonderment speaks [it is speaking]
lately your work or lately mine
Italian trains take me in titration
they all said anyhow I failed on

I’d show them

My life placing itself next to yours as a relief.
We could sink into and rise out of

Is it right they hear
the other woman’s voice in mine?

The least complicated part of you your numbers.
Nothing prime in line, nothing deviant.
I could not cross to the window to see could not rest
could not change form. Dirt I was
to dirt I should return.

The appearing numbers stalked me
on papers, absently 2 or 3 digits
at the doctor’s office on the dialling
patient board, a 4 or J side by side,
even in public the place standing in for you.
Wasn’t this proof I didn’t need?

what speaks from these places

system nerves,

                             of your touch

desirous howl      backwards going

taste beyond enemy
you know                         the old won’t know

Q              say
A              I can’t              that the what of us was
                                                     more than mind





Q             you assume it only speaks forward

A              I think it’s true about you

Q              and my people

A              the ones with crooked necks

Q              if they laugh, yes

A              I felt drawn to you in blue

Q              ‘after the 15th we can write normal letters             again, thank God’

A              the words came in backwards
                 fingered them over in
                 facing trees facing walls whatever
                 was most silent
                 I hung my ears out night after night
                 off the sill waiting     your voice
                 did not rise
                 in woods
                 did not rise
                 in graves
                 it did not rise
                 by the riverside
                 it did not rise
                in nineteen year of our lord hundred and                  fifty

Laressa Dickey

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