by Josef Brustmann
Translated by Paul-Henri Campbell

that i have no mother tongue
that i have no father tongue
the bohemian-maravian-austrian
this wonderful habsburgian amalgam
of ancestral tongues
i have skipped them

my language is that of siblings
of brothers and of sisters
i have licked it up
off a salty stone

we acquired them quickly
in our bavarian exile
so that we may not stick out
fit in
and survive

i wanted to fit in
with brother and sister
with the natives there
fit into the desolate land

and yet they still resound within me
those bohemian sounds and names of things
guide gash
it gefraster it
dua net urassen bua
riegelts ma net de goi

they will fade away
those sounds
just as father and mother
have already faded away


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