Roger Manderscheid (1933-2010)

And the Memorial Day occasion stretches on: news just in that the Luxembourg writer Roger Manderscheid, an old & dear friend, died on Tuesday night. Of the generation just preceding mine, he was the most prolific, radical, engaged, political, satirical, and plain humorous poet, novelist, playwright in both the German and the Luxembourg languages, as well as being a superb visual artist. His 1988 novel schacko klak, written in letzebuergesch, (and made into a movie in  1990) is a milestone in the modern literature of Luxembourg. Below, a poem of Roger’s I translated this morning. I will add more materials & translations in the near future.

Roger Manderscheid

family

the father carries the fatherland on his back
the mother is handcuffed to the swiss cheese
grandfather means a twenty minute detour
the children only bark when a stranger comes into the house
grandmother has been dying for the last ten years
the dog has medical insurance
eating and drinking keeps the family together
or the fear to sit alone on the dry crust
one comes as close to one another as on a photo
at times a sudden gash rips through the potatoe
the mother then sways above the abyss of a cooking pot
the father swears & unloads the fatherland
later the profession’s climate
and still later a whole lotto block
and begins to soften
once upon a time he too
had imagined something completely different
somewhere in tv land a shot is heard
the indoor plants make noises as they grow
the dog returns from school
if the goldfish was a cat it would sing
the dream of love has turned into an own home
each morning the sardines
are taken from their tins
and hung up to dry on the washing line
raspberry juice screams grandma
on the disc all hell breaks loose
quiet says the father
the children bark although no stranger
has entered the house
mohair wool says the mother
one hears the fridge hum
domestic peace breaks out
a fly falls from the ceiling
and drowns in the lemonade
the dog says something
quiet repeats the father
let him be says the mother
the daughter knits a yard long scarf
for her boyfriend
growl says the child
zack says the father
that one you have earned says the mother
stop barking
and now the dog starts weeping
the mother hadn’t imagined her life like this
she has a belly
the father has two
the affair is simply too serious
christmas lies behind the tv
one show is called closing time
when someone laughs the others get scared
when derlacher sees this he gets scared
the family explodes in laughing
the aquarium stands in the middle of the room
like a lifeboat
the fish slide
past each other without
saying a word

[translated from German by Pierre Joris]

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