Translating Paul Celan

Nothing is as it seems, but buds on the trellis are the colour

of wine. Crocus bowls brim with fresh snow


Not even the jay’s scream of I told you so can reach

the hand’s pressure on the open book beside the lamp


Learn to exchange advice for the words that stay near

the edge of the fear they escaped. Pigeon-dance of joy


Remember you’re only a visitor; no word you unpack will be

the golem, no angel will step through the smoke far off


The second-longest poem has long since grown

used to doing what it must. The room turns colder


After the last word has left listen for the quiet

rap on the door, for the stranger to wait outside

Leonard Neufeldt is the author of six books of poetry. His poems have also appeared in numerous anthologies and major literary journals and magazines throughout Canada and the U.S. Several of his poems have been read on the CBC, National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. He hails from Yarrow, British Columbia and has spent his adult years in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.