The murderers are loose!
They search the world
All through the night,
oh God, all through the night!
To find the fire kindled in me now,
This child so like a light, so still and mild.
They want to put it out.
Like pouring ink
Their shadows seep from angled walls;
Like scrawny cats they scuttle
Timidly across the footworn steps.
And I am shackled to my bed
With grating chains all gnawed with rust
That weigh upon me, pitiless and strong.
And bite raw wounds into my helpless arms.
The murderer has come!
He wears a hat,
A broad-brimmed hat with towering pointed peak;
Upon his chin sprout tiny golden flames
That dance across my body; it is good…
His huge nose sniffs about and stretches out
Into a tentacle that wriggles like a rope.
Out of his fingernails crawl yellow maggots,
Saffron seeds that sprinkle down on me
Into my hair and eyes.
The tentacle Gropes for my breasts, at rose-brown nipples,
And I see its white flesh twist into the blackness;
Something sinks upon me, sighs and presses—
I can’t go on…I can’t…Oh let the blade strike down
Like a monstrous tooth that flashes from the sky!
Oh crush me! There, where blood-drops fly,
Can you hear it cry, can you hear it?
“Mother!” Oh the stillness…
In my womb: the axe.
From either side of it break forks of flame.
They meet and fold together now:
Of dark green bronze, so stern and grave.
Translated by Henry A. Smith