From the Winter 2014 issue of RA Magazine, a poem by George Szirtes in response to Anselm Kiefer’s show:
Minimenta: Topography for Anselm Kiefer
The topography of ruins. One wave
of grass covers everything. I have seen
a woman bending over a stone.
Everything around her was green.
The desire is to leave everything alone.
The difficulty is knowing what to save.
I am a wreck, says one, but not
with his mouth. Where are his organs
of speech? They’ve been wrecked
by the huge wind that blows, now hot
now cold. Too late to protect
a body fraying at the margins.
The smallest things move me. The rain
as it shakes the leaf. The sound of laughter
in the street. I’m easy to please.
Give me fine particulars, he says,
the microfiction of pleasure. A train
passing. The silence after.
Somewhere within his chest
a crow was croaking. Somewhere not far
from him bodies were decomposing.
Everything in the world was for the best.
Outside leaves lifted. The sky was closing
round a tree on a distant star.
The terrain of grief does not grow any smaller.
The bush fires spread. The dead keep interrupting.
A crowd shouting in the park meets a crowd
shouting in the street. Shouting turns to shooting.
Turn off the film. The soundtrack is too loud.
We don’t need sound. We don’t need technicolour.
But here is colour: hands, eyes and lips,
magnified as if for real, then vanishing
into the sinkholes that punctuate
I don’t say anything,
says the mouth. You are too late,
say the eyes, hands, and fingertips.
You build ruins we can live in.
You hide our bones in concrete.
The bomb shelter is inside the bomb.
Here is the car we arrive in.
Here is what remains of the street.
Here it all stops. Welcome home.