Heinrich Böll

Country: Germany

My Muse
(Translated by William Pitt Root and Hannelore Quander-Rattee)

My muse stands on the corner
what I don’t want
she gives cheap to everyone
when she’s happy she makes a gift of what I want
Seldom have I seen her happy.

My muse is a nun
in the darkened house
behind double grates
she puts in a good word
for me to her lover.

My muse works in the factory
when she gets off
she wants to go dancing with me
after  work
is not the time for me

My muse is old
raps at my knuckles
screeches with her leathery mouth
in vain fool
fool in vain.

My muse is a housewife
but it is words not linens
she keeps in the closet
seldom does she open the doors
and take out one for me.

My muse has leprosy
like me
we kiss the snow
from each other’s lips
declare each other pure.

My muse is a German
she provides me no protection
and only when I bathe in dragonblood
does she place her hand over my heart
this is how I remain vulnerable.