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Fragments from the Dollmaker's Life


A woman tells the Dollmaker.

—What happens in your shop
Why do you spend all night and day in there
It can't be for the sake of money
You wouldn't have time to spend it anyway
So why the work all day?
Look there, the bootmaker
Returning from the fair
He sways under the wind like a young oak
You know, he's got a knife in his coat pocket
Can't bring himself to part with it you see
And look,
The baker closed up early
To get a taste of that new wine
He was invited to the inn to dine
And those strange merchants
With children of their own
Rebellious lads and firebrand girls
Made up of flesh and blood, not wood, or cloth or bone


The Dollmaker's Dream.

He feels himself a marionette
He feels—suspended in the air by strings
He feels a glove on his right hand
A cap on his white head

And here he feels—his arms and legs
In all directions, all directions, all directions, spread
And from the side, wide eyes are watching him
Sometimes a sneeze is heard over his head

And he is helpless, nothing to be done
And he is helpless, with no desire to do anything
He even forgot, that all his strength
Is not enough for the former nor the latter


The dolls discuss their master.

—We are grateful to him, for the material he used to make us
That we are composed of molecules
Moreover, we have a master,
Who has endowed us with a plastic skeleton
And stuffed us with oakum
Who like us is made up of molecules
And atoms, in turn—out of subatomic particles
We thank him, because he delights us with his aroma
Of course, if we were better
If we weren't lazy loafers in the dust
Didn't throw ourselves into the coals like butts of cigarettes


A doll's monologue.

There's nothing to be: this is our lot
Anything can be expected
From the body's categories, designed for pleasure
For the aging generation

It is important to remember Epictetus
And go about our duties notwithstanding
Or maybe it's just best to see it all
As just a prologue to another state of affairs

And only then—will we begin to know
Blowing our horns made out of porcelain
Remember how to craft yourself out of yourself
And no one will judge you there

By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2008 by Peter Golub. All rights reserved.