The mountain pass is notorious.
On the left the tangles of the pine trees
and on the right the planets and stars.
Sometimes I was overtaken, sometimes I had to brake
black-brown clouds charged along ahead of me
as though I should hurry but I was in no hurry.
I drove upwards like in a children’s song.
One sharp bend to go and then the highest point of the pass –
a few seconds as light as a skeleton
before everything goes tearing downhill.
I accelerated a bit and held my breath ready
when suddenly I was overcome
by a deep sleep, as clammy as thick fog.
All sound was silenced.
I quickly threw her into second and forced,
though I’d existed a moment ago,
like a velvet drill in heavenly matter.
Whether I was on my way home, or alone
or accompanied – I’ve clean forgotten.
Apart from that it was the depth of winter
and then that road, that hateful road
that just kept on climbing and climbing
there is no end to it.
by Alfred Schaffer
From: Mens Dier Ding
Publisher: De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2014
Translation: Michele Hutchinson