Translated by Celia Hawkesworth
On Saturday, November 19, 2002, sixty people incarcerated in a camp for illegal immigrants sew their lips together. Sixty people with their lips sewn reel around the camp, gazing at the sky. Small muddy stray dogs scamper after them, yapping shrilly. The authorities keep assiduously postponing consideration of their applications for leave to remain.
By Christopher Impiglia
For my great-grandparents, as it was for most immigrants of their generation, the past was a hindrance. It was all about the future. A new life with new appliances and new cars and new names. Nothing old, as the old carried with it the weight of oppressive regimes, poverty, and social immobility.
By Stacy Mattingly
In the fall of 2015, as people fleeing Syria and elsewhere for Europe were being stopped en masse at borders, two writers’ collectives to which I belong – one based primarily in Sarajevo, one in Atlanta – decided to engage in a collaborative artistic response. We called it The Borders Project.
By Rachael Maddux
At the Pawleys Island General Store, I bought a postcard of a ghost. He stood atop a dune in a wide-brimmed hat and overcoat, one arm raised towards the ocean, his body half-disappeared into the overcast sky. Some stories held that the Gray Man was the ghost of a colonial man who had been thrown from his horse and drowned in the marsh.
Translated by Susan Bernofsky
One Thursday in late August, ten men gather in front of Berlin’s Town Hall. According to news reports, they’ve decided to stop eating. Three days later they decide to stop drinking too. Their skin is black. They speak English, French, Italian, as well as other languages that no one here understands. What do these men want? They are asking for work. They want to support themselves by working.
Translated by Gaye Kynoch
The days and weeks in Lisbon, the clear, higher, harder light out here by the coast, the slightly forsaken haziness of the city, a forgotten region of outermost Europe, the sound of the street-cleaning trucks advancing slowly through the streets behind Praça do Rossio in the last hour before daybreak, like big beetles snorting hoarsely in the dust of the strangely quiet city…
By Melanie Jordan
Three quarters of the way through, this dude
enters. Every time, he pops up like Mephistopheles
through a clunky trapdoor, and I don’t even know
if I’m inviting him
By Chris Blackman
Hope is but a greeting card, it occurs to me,
while in a cab barreling across the Triborough Bridge
and it might be important enough to get this maxim
tattooed on my neck in case I forget this simple truth
and lest ideas otherwise become more obtrusive,
more incessant, but these are just the ugly thoughts
to which I am chemically prone, when I’m feeling morbid—
By Stacy Mattingly
We’d already shown our passports at the border—it was still Czechoslovakia-Germany then. We’d kept the lights on in our compartment, waiting for the guard. Drab uniform. Angular face. Documents, he’d said. The Cold War was basically dead. Still, I could imagine.
Translated by Rachel Hildebrandt and Alexandra Roesch
White swathes of steam float across the deck. It wreaks. Someone has puked into the swimming pool, and fibrous chunks float on the surface. Leg of duck in a truffle reduction—the Chef’s daily special. As though in slow motion, the girl straightens up, staggers away, reeling between stacks of deck chairs and disappears into the haze.
Translated by Erika Luckert
In her bedroom, where nobody would intrude, she imagined herself powerful, penis in hand, victor over all the rest and defying humiliation.
By Alison Moore
He is not in the bedroom. She can hear the shower running in the bathroom, can hear him singing in there. She would prefer not to have to talk to this man who keeps calling her Ester as if he knows her. She is still annoyed with him for being so late and not even apologizing. She is obliged to feed the man – she wants to feed him, she always wants to feed men – but she would be pleased to get away without having to engage with him.
By Marina Alagić-Bowder
The March sunshine is clear as a bell, but there’s a bitter edge to the glassy Adriatic waters. Matt and I follow the children down to the shore to watch them dip their toes and scream, “Hladno-o-o!” The initial H adds to the shivering.
Translated by Mirza Purić
All the pain we inflicted on our mother began with our birth. We hurt her when we were being born, and we hurt her by being born. Why people come uninvited, she never understood. She invited her first husband into her life. Me she didn’t invite.
By L.S. McKee
The doctors will search
will root out the cause
of tumor or freckle
with misshapen borders.
Translated by James McFarlane and Kathleen McFarlane
On a calm winter morning, on 4th January, 1761, a company of five men, clad for a journey, were rowed out from the Tollbooth into the shipping roads off Copenhagen.
Translated by Jan Pytalski
The city was rebuilt to restore its previous look, sometimes down to exact details, following a naive belief that that would turn it back into what it used to be before the war. It was an exercise in fidelity without purpose, an empty gesture of men in love with history.
Translated by Frederika Randall
They caught her because she made a mistake. For months she had sailed right through their nets with her false passport, her bleached hair, her little heart-shaped medal reworked as a cross, her Polish spoken like a Pole and even her school-taught German spoken badly as only the Poles in Slesia did.
Translated by Michael Hofmann
On my lap the animal knows neither fear nor persecution. It feels happiest when pressed against me; it is loyal to the family that has nurtured it.
Translated by Kirkwood Adams and Elizabeth Clark Wessel
Ask: the hum of branches ringing in the body, a nervous shimmer, change inside a frequency.
Translated by Janet Livingstone
The river draws closer and closer to the stream of gawking people. They jump onto the sandbags so they can see themselves in it. And at night they dream dreams on the shore. Dreams in which clouds of dust whirl behind herds of galloping animals.
Translated by Sean Bye
It was right before the war, and we’d put all the poverty and deprivation of the Great Depression behind us. The whole economy was doing better, hardly anyone was unemployed, they’d get jobs building the Autobahn or could get permits to work abroad. The craftspeople in town got plenty of commissions.
I was a sort of upstairs-downstairs person in the crew. My role as journalist and anthropologist afforded me precious access to both worlds.
Translated by C.J. Collins
I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future.
Translated by Sherilyn Hellberg
The face, the voice, the hands press against the wall. Celestine up in the south-facing attic, in front of the stained mirror—and there is also a dried wreath there. In the darkness inside the wall, a glimpse of Celestine’s eyes. In one eye a nettle grows. The forest around the castle sparkled like silver, carrying Celestine’s name within it. She is furious; she hunts down the guests at the hotel when they sleep. She slides down the corridors. She licks their faces. She licks the sleep out of their eyes. She cries no no when the wall closes in on her.
Translated by Mirza Purić
You’re always on the edge between two chasms, cradle-ladles,
as your limping legs laze on the wall.
There are wider spaces in you, their evening chill
callously presses your palms
as if to pierce your insides, spill into the night,
into the rivers above the roofs, into the rotten orchards of the sky.
Translated by George Henson
I was in Vienna this year, after a twelve-year absence. My arrival coincided with a mass rally of three hundred thousand people who protested against the return of Nazism to the country, precisely in Heroes’ Square, the same one where one million Austrians frenziedly cheered Hitler.
Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman
Mudugan was a typical village of thieves, built in the middle of the forest in a gap that barely deserved to be called a clearing, so tightly did the trees encircle the log houses. There weren’t any paths that had been marked to get there and it was inaccessible to anyone who didn’t know exactly where the ravines and undergrowth were. That was where Umrug Batyushin learned to live his life as a self-sufficient child, there where he learned to shoot rifles, to carve up elk, and endure cold and hardship, as well as bear the howling of the wolves…
Translated by Mirza Purić
My husband is burly, and when he walks, it’s as if his steps are yawning. He stumbles over me as if over a pet. I sometimes hide behind a tree and wait for him to turn around. Or leave. If we’re going to a birthday party, I’m the one who wraps and carries the present. If he’s had a lot of wine, the room takes on a smell which makes me put on my shoes and walk up and down the street.
Translated by Chenxin Jiang
Europe is disintegrating, the old lady is falling apart. She recently appeared at the Museum Festival with a terrible heap of jewelry around her neck; she’d just dyed her hair blond; above her fake gold necklace hung her wretched, worn face, and then she laughed, walked up to the bar, embraced a tall young man and kiss him artfully.
By David Constantine
During the funeral, and after it when the mourners came back to her house, Katrin continued in the almost rapturous state she had been lifted into by the last hours of Eric’s life. It was over, accomplished, her strength had sufficed. And now meticulously she would attend in every detail to every thing that needed to be done. She allowed advice, but followed it her way; help, but she directed it. She accepted condolences, and herself extended them to whoever had been saddened by Eric’s death.
Translated by Julia Sanches
She continues to divine the future—more so than the past, which she has almost completely forgotten. She has herself turned into Linka, the gypsy from Debrecen. Her Jewishness is a mixture of faith and superstition; a religion she has partly invented herself.
Translated by Kelsi Vanada
love’s cry lingers incomplete like a half-articulated sneeze love is a half-sneeze cut off by another sneeze creaking a reflex scandalously i rest my skull on your sweet skull a phonograph before the sonata in C major accentuates and duplicates the cravings and increases wellbeing and exists
Translated by Susan Bernofsky
As soon as he entered the sleepers’ realm, the air around him grew sharply colder, with glittering silvery particles of light falling all around him. He watched the miniature flakes floating, they danced, liberated from gravity, yet still went on falling: falling ever farther until at last they alighted on the frozen earth and disappeared.
Translated by Martin Aitken
We come no closer, only the opposite—we are moving away. Moving backwards, losing the pores of the woman’s skin, we lose the pores, the fair down of her upper lip that you discovered, the lines of her skin reminding you of some other age—youth, funnily enough, that couldn’t quite be placed.