THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS by Saša Stanišić
01/27/10
 
A man with two heads walks in,
blue overalls, blue eyes and two beards,
one short beard, one not that short beard,
he doesn't limp, I just imagine it so.

The left head says, they are here to pick up the empty bottles,
the right head doesn't say why they are here.
The man pushes his handcart,
it is little between his hands,

and it is older than the universe,
it must be the first thing ever made
through stellar nucleosynthesis with dark matter
and mass and temperature and whatnot.

Where are the beer crates? asks the left head,
the right head takes a look around.
The man's math skills are above average,
he whispers numbers in a way I would write songs for you

if I wrote songs for you, but I don't,
I only have kind words for you
and this confusion for you
and this man for you with one beard longer than the other.

Aesthetically seen
I have not ever seen anything as beautiful
as the elegant self conception of this man
picking up the remains of a feast to which he was not invited,

and at which his presence in the midst of
Berlin's media and literary people
with their lack of a second head and big muscles
would have been as odd as his little handcart might have been,

floating through the universe back then
when beer and social pressure and role play
and shirts were not an issue yet.
The left head says: 68 Euro for the bottles,

the right head doesn't say how much we're getting back,
and the man pushes his little cart out to the street,
where at this particular moment you could see,
and I wish you could,

a street, a street sign, a poodle, a woman behind the poodle,
a blackened piece of gum, a pale tree, a bicycle, a man on a bicycle,
a flower store, flowers, a graffito and a man with two heads
unloading beer crates into a blue and black van.

--

Saša Stanišić was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1978. His first novel How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone has been translated into 30 languages. He has been living mostly in German speaking countries since 1992 and has been writing short stories all his life. In his first short story there were partisans and a talking dog. In his plays puppets play. Stanišić is currently Writer-in-Residence at M.I.T.

 
 
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