A conversation with Benedikt Ledebur

Benedikt Ledebur


For Tamuna Sirbiladze


Sketch for a translation by Matthias Goldmann


Pictures from the past speak of her now,
Presence of all that‘s gone rushes my mind,
Defying the confines of separation,
Escaping to moments, shedding dilapidation.

Who’s keeping watch now that her eyes have closed?
Crawling on all fours, brooding inside,
As every image of her trickles away,
Instead of stealing from her brush strokes

Creating from her shimmering colors light and self.
Tracing brows in the ironclad distance 
Features that think I understand.

Attempts to add to myself, or to her,
Staring, numb, at this point in time
Better call it a wheel I’m turning round.


Better call it a wheel I’m turning round,
Than rest on heedless translations.
Of all that's in a name, and all the spirit
I used to read in the swirling of her brown hair,

Dyed in steps, touching me at night,
Every word echoes in the one that follows,
None of the jokes I turn against myself,
Can mimic her raspy voice, or the seduction

That lit up the room in Hall. The others
Asleep in their beds, intoxicated. We
Perched on wings, high in the here

And now. What others might say
Was an afterthought. We were at a loss
To head their words, saw a wheel,
Not its spokes and their movement.


It was not about spokes and their movement.
As far as we were concerned they’d not seen
The deep emptiness of their questions
As they tripped drunkenly down the stairs, in jitters,

Stammering, calling a wing a bubble.
Why there was something and not nothing, signs,
Thoughts, loosely linked images, for naught,
About loosing face, helpless phrases

Profoundly revealing brittle rubber
Unfit for road, never beholding the turns,
Winding gestures of highway cutting through memory.

How do colors attach to remembrance?
How does the screeching sound of arguments
Seem ever more hollow the higher its notes?


The flying steps of their highest moment
At the precipice of dismay, loss of weight,
Tumbling in a landslide of well-crafted meaning,
Behooved, chest spilling from cage.

Closing in on my situation, galloping
Round and round the fables of lasting, of something,
In her children, drawings, my writing,
In disbanded decoration, arrangements

Jaded ornament. How could a sentence ever
Capture even one of the shooting branches
And colors that brought us together,

Left behind, viciously, by sheer force. Just as they
Were about to clear space for the person she was,
Taken off their set course. Outward bound


Taken off their set course, outward bound,
Soaring, flapping wings are burdened,
Feathers torn, forcing descent. Questions
As to turning, landing flutter about,

Quickly becoming swarms of fleeing thoughts.
Falling, relapsing, disrupting lines, once
Out to take flight; there is no cure,
There’s no coming home. The light in her eyes

Has receded, as mine still remember the way
Hers were drawn to the sun, touched bodies.
I can still see it all, but my lament

Cannot bring about the blink of an eye
That has closed, leaving her gaze to sink into mine,
Lifewards, my mind is still looking that way.


Lifewards, my mind is still looking that way,
Recalling her walk, grace, many hours
Led by her hand, bound into images,
Some of her face, wild makeup, urging

A dance of gestures, bodies, separation.
It’s eyes, hands, mouths that converge,
Binding each other, who cares where,
Violating the still of night until dawn.

It makes no sense to tell these stories,
It’s the colors that defy comparison,
There is no brush, no paint, no camera

Or sentence that can hold a candle to them.
How get it out of my head that I’m still seeing
And only now forming remembrances.


I am only now forming remembrances
That take me back to days filled with life,
When arguments or desperate situations
Were linked to happiness and grateful eyes.

That‘s easily said, but I can hear the mills
Clapping, clamor drowning out imagination
Emptying depths, blunting edges. My experience,
Brought into form, detached from feeling,

Is tied to rhymes, the sound of meaning,
Nonsense blocks out the fragrance, skin, collarbone,
movement of neck. Spellbound by names and words

I know I will awake and what I see has passed.
In the dim light of a gaze that cannot see itself
In time gone by, from growing distances.


Time gone by, growing distances, and those
Those that left, they themselves hinder comparison,
Translation. Stepping back reveals the threads,
connections, shapeless understanding sets in

Of the the paths of hands, intertwining,
Fumbling in black and white, locking fingers,
Only passing glances at the blinding experience,
A pulse that rises to the ear. Among the things

That make life last, their interpretation
Touches on the naked wounds their waning caused,
On vision that sheds its skin under this gaze,

Stifles significance wound up in them.
Yet nothing will make me take my mind off
Tracing this maze of roads and shadow play.


Tracing her maze of roads and shadow play,
Facial expressions, down to the smallest details,
Pressure of lips, twitching of skin,
Titles she gave to raspy sounds, intended

To add insult to injury, it doesn’t help to undress
The naked beauty that made cheap clothes
Unfold the magic of precious silk.
What still affects me deeply, will always

Make me abandon the words I’ve found.
As I fix my gaze to colors, trace the lines
Of things that I believe belonged to her,

The scars heal on the figures that she cut.
Who really cares for the overarching truths
We ever try to fathom. Some find love.


We ever try to fathom why some find love,
And the splinters a self strews along its path.
The threads we weave to form a person
And those that have connected us expire.

Familiar spaces now seem bleak and empty,
Crossing them alone, without her hand,
She is the measure of every nook and cranny.
The smallest signs of her eat at my heart.

Mouth, hands, in search of her true nature,
The evenness that marked her face, lines
of an icon, as Jawlensky might have read them,

The corners of her mouth can still make me believe
That she’s here. My mind and vision are
Parting ways, our love became true, at last.


Parting ways, our love became true, at last.
Thus — with pomegranates and all the symbols
Who, as figures, called on her to become
More abstract, to haze the canvas, rattle

All the links in this chain — I will gather
And weave into a shining wreath all she gave.
While the picture I draw lacks her colors
The walls she painted on, the brush she used

Her play of lines teemed with life that followed
A cause. She knew what she was fighting agains
But painted flowers over things she didn’t like,

Whatever drove her was cast into fresh forms
Even when she painted in the negative,
The card she played was one that she let go of.


The card you play is one you‘re letting go of,
And she let faces trickle off, into themselves,
And every line she drew to mark their features,
Became a part of all the smallest strokes

Of her brushes, chalk lines. She was out to
Unmask pictures, fly them in the face of
Lunacy. Braving doom, defying fate,
She was devastated. All were lied to

By beauty, but she saw the difference of colors
And bore witness. No one knows the lucky
Number, every stroke will inflict scars,

They’re spread around the picture, take one for free
But look and choose. Haunted by images,
Is it blue, red, or green I should have asked?


Is it blue, red, or green I should have asked
When they made the ball jump and roll from
Number to number. The formulas for
All that is to come will be connected so as

To relegate us to extras, stochastic ones.
One last time she gently waved her hand,
Holding the strings of our bond, then I saw
It sink, with her smile, my love.

The flowing lines she painted onto walls,
What she expressed in postures and masks,
Is now as a relic, the game she played

Has ended. Everything she was and could
And could have been, the deals she struck,
The images she left us with won‘t say.


The images she left us with won‘t say,
We can only wake the figures she disguised.
What did she leave us, not to lower it
Into a grave but to see to at every turn.

Her voice had already become weak,
When she spoke to all my senses, every moment
Free of anything that could tip the balance
Of figures, of expression. Asleep or awake

Situations that took shape translated into form
Where jaded signs will never find their way.
It was the in-between where she could soar.

Talk is cheap, but song, and pictures
Light up for falling eyelids, for the
The past that speaks of her today.


Better call it a wheel I’m turning round
Than refer to its spokes and their movement,
The flying steps of their highest moment
That took them off their set course. Outward bound,

Lifewards, my mind is still looking that way,
And only now forming remembrances,
Of time gone by, from growing distances, 
Tracing a maze of roads and shadow play

We ever try to fathom. Some find love
Parted by fate grows together, at last.
The card you play is one you‘re letting go of.

Is it blue, red, or green I should have asked?
The images she left me with won‘t say
They are the past but speak of her today.