Walter Kempowski’s Final Novel Finally Gets an English Translation / Oscar Mardell

one year until the Wall comes down

and Jonathan Fabrizius

respected journalist

well into his forties now

is living in Hamburg

on the occasional commission

and on the generosity of his uncle

a manufacturer of sofa-beds

is living with his young girlfriend

though they have their own rooms

in a flat which withstood Gomorrah

coveted now by antiquarians

for its miraculous railings

she wolf-whistles when she wants to be fucked

and when she wants to sleep

sends him back to his sofa-bed

her aging Wolfskind

who accepts a commission

from a Japanese car manufacturer

to cover some motor rally

in Danzig/Gdańsk

not far from where his father

Wehrmacht officer

was shot down by the Red Army

[like in Kempowski’s previous]

All for Nothing

nor from where his mother

eminent member

of the League of German Girls

breathed her last he loves to repeat

at his birth on a horse-drawn wagon

she and the caravan of thirty thousand

again for Nothing

figures overlooked perhaps

where English is spoken

at least complicated

by the suffering inflicted by the Reich

also it seems For Nothing

not too much history begs his boss

an impossible brief of course

where every turn is haunted

every interaction mediated

even with the map

especially with the map

and Jonathan Fabrizius fills a vial

with the sands of the Vistula Spit

hoping to find among them

some remnant of his father

a fisherman watches him

says that is my son

fantasies yes but sufficient still

to impart real homeliness

to this unheimlich homeland

where even the marrow of one’s bones

is imaginary/porous

Oscar Mardell was born in London and raised in South Wales. He currently lives in an urban commune in Auckland, New Zealand where he brews beer and practices Aikido. He teaches Classical Studies at St Mary’s College, and volunteers for English Language Partners NZ. His work has appeared in The Literary London JournalWar, Literature & the Arts,3:AMDIAGRAM,Queen Mob’s Tea House, and March Vladness.

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