the common wince of a makeshift heaven

presumes me




   Paul Celan lived his final years at 6 Avenue Emile Zola. This address is within sight of Pont Mirabeau, the bridge from which he threw himself into the Seine sometime near the end of April, 1970.

   During a visit in the fall of 2002 I decided I would retrace his final steps: from earth to water, from speech to silence, from time to oblivion. Two hundred and sixty steps is the distance between such things. I stopped on the bridge when I heard ‘stop’ in a mix of German, French, Romanian, and Hebrew. But there are two sides to every bridge, upstream and downstream. Being a soul ravaged by history it was obvious to me that he would take leave of history by looking back, that is, by looking upstream— at Paris, and further on into the Europe that was his home and the Europe that destroyed him. he would let the river carry himnorth of the future’.

   I read a poem at my feet and then I placed a chestnut on the handrail. I closed my eyes and looked for the place where time is unable to penetrate. I pushed the chestnut over, into that place.


I heard something say thank you… I am not sure what it was. I think it was everything.






where the sky has been shed

by a heaven that has crawled



it is not enough to dream

tunnels beneath the night





 Sun Apr 27 16:35:40 PDT 2003



it is the impossibility of being without you merged with the impossibility of being with you, imposed on the impossibility of being myself mixed with the impossibility of being anything other than myself…







from Correspondence 

a book written in the presence of Paul Celan and Adrianna Mendrek

(including letters by Adrianna Mendrek and poems by Paul Celan)

Mike Schertzer, 2003