Father Telephoned the Fly

Collage Herta Müller
Translated from the German by Alexander Booth

Once again Anton is standing in front of the house with his old spoon in hand and eating the snow from the windowsill. Yesterday while eating the snow there was a tiny piece of bread tied to his hat and at the same time in a very high voice he sang and his breath took off like a parrot fleeing fire.

The man from the intelligence services is following Herr Frank and on the same day notes under file number 005/2011: May 4 at exactly 3 o’clock Subject Frank together with the red-haired dog Else goes into a church. I hide in the corner. They believe they are alone. Subject Frank suddenly barks. The dog Else lights a candle. I begin to feel uneasy then I disappear.

The balloon ride of the sun. The round cherries along the electrical wires of the trees. The summer light swims through the hay. The dove is on the plain. Maybe after the accident the carpenter of the security guard’s wife will illegally make a jointed wooden hand at his workplace. The thumb is ready. The rest could be delayed.

A white wind whispers when trees bloom. The cold streets would love to learn how to fly. The air already is driving the blue sheep home or the declension of the lanterns.

Alexander Booth’s translations of German poet Lutz Seiler’s in field latin as well as his translation of Gunther Geltinger’s novel Moor will be published this year by Seagull Books. He lives in Berlin.

Herta Müller collages are excerpted from Vater Telefoniert Mit Den Fliegen. © Carl Hanser Verlag München 2012.

“Each new issue feels like a public report from many individual private spheres.” —Antoine Wilson

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Issue 24



Spring 2016


Herta Müller was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature for her work exposing oppressive Romanian life under Nicolae Ceasescu’s dictatorship. English translations of her novels include The Hunger Angel, The Appointment, and Land of Green Plums (all Picador).


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