Reinhard's got himself under control. He's got wires leading to all his organs, but above all to his mouth. No unconsidered word crosses his lips. His mind has looked at everything. His digestion works. When he says, I'll do that, he'll do it. He can be relied on absolutely. If something doesn't want things the way he wants them, his will pulls on the wires, as if he were pulling on reins.
The wire cables hang slack most of the time. But when he asks himself, after a Sunday of relaxation, how it actually was, he notices that the cables weren't really slack. His movements were hemmed in. They could have been so much more vast.
There's Good and Bad left over from Alexa's daily life. Nearly every day, there's a piece of Good for the glass case. But the Less Good, that is to say the Bad, that stays too and collects in corners; and it must be eaten; how else is it supposed to disappear? It must be eaten by Alexa, for there's no one else around; eaten up and then the corners licked out. This Bad is a dry lump, it fills her mouth and tastes like communion wafers. But licking the corners out isn't too disgusting. For they're Alexa's corners and they're clean and fresh and sweet—all except for the Bad, which must be eaten up.
Florian must become one with himself, or better yet, be one with himself. There are two Florians, the one and the other, that is to say the mirror-image. For Florian One and Two can become congruent. Or better yet, they were so from the start. And it is always a mishap, almost a kind of sin, when Florian One gets out of line. There were always two, and one could say that the second is the mirror-image, the model, the plan, which the first should conform to; the plan that could show how everything ought to be. This plan is beautiful, like Florian himself actually, for Florian does everything he can to match the mirror-image. This is stressful, for the mirror-image has muscles, his eyes shine, and he always reacts with esprit.
When Florian has aligned himself sufficiently with the mirror-image, his gaze shifts, the two images become one, and Florian sees himself three-dimensionally.
- from the series "33 Functioning Machines."
Veronika Reichl was born in 1973 in Baltimore. She grew up in Munich and studied graphic design and media arts in Stuttgart. She is currently completing her PhD dissertation, "Meaning Matches Meaning: Animated Film as Metaphor for Philosophical Texts," in Berlin. Her poems won the prestigious "Open-Mike" prize in 2003 and recently appeared in Circumference and Action, Yes.
Donna Stonecipher (the translator) is the author of The Reservoir (Georgia, 2002) and Souvenir de Constantinople (Instance, 2007). Her translations from French and German have been widely published.