Gottfried Benn's 'Little Aster' | Harper's Magazine

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Gottfried Benn’s ‘Little Aster’


A drowned driver of a beer truck was dumped onto the table
Someone had stuck a dark-pale lilac-colored aster
Between his teeth
I cut out the tongue and gums
With a long knife
Working from the chest outwards
Under the skin,
I must have touched it, because it slid
Into the brain right next to it.

I packed it into the chest cavity,
Between the wood shavings,
As it was being stitched up.
Drink up in your vase!
Rest sweetly,
Little Aster!

Gottfried Benn, Kleine Aster in: Morgue und andere Gedichte (1912) (S.H. transl.)

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