Paul Klee

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ich habe meinen Regenschirm vergessen

Who would have cared I owned an umbrella,
let alone that I had forgotten it,
had I not written that note to myself?
If it had rained outside Plato's cave, they would
not have known it, but I know, as I stare
into the sunlight, that it rains sometimes,
somewhere, at times and places that I may
chance to be, sans umbrella in Turin
or, maybe, mindless in Sils Maria.

To bear or not to bear an umbrella,
that is the unbearable question, since
we cannot know that it is going to rain
when we reach our final destination.
Posterity may never know why I
wrote, "I have forgotten my umbrella",
nor what the meaning of my act entailed,
unless some ingenious Frenchman can
explain it to future generations.

But the paradox remains; I could not
have truly written, "I have forgotten" it
at the time of writing the note because
that was the time when I remembered it.
Clearly, then, it was not the existence
of the umbrella that I forgot but
rather not remembering to take it
with me to the place where I had not predicted
that it would rain; a place I now forget.

I am in some street, and it starts to rain,
but I find my umbrella is missing.
For some reason this seems significant,
so, I write a note to remind myself
not to forget it again, when there is rain.
"I have forgotten to bring my umbrella"
would have made plain the act is intended,
not the little shadow I forgot to keep
by me, as defence against bad weather.

But I may have left my umbrella on
the train, in the café, at the brothel
or anywhere else where it could have been
set down carelessly and quite forgotten.
Would our Frenchman think of that, I wonder?
No, he would be too busy undermining
my reputation by analysing
my forgetfulness, on one occasion,
as if this were a judgement on my work.

What really happened I fear to tell you
because it links me to an awful crime.
An acquaintance of mine, Monsieur X, say,
borrowed my umbrella, but on the way
home he was attacked by ruffians who tried
to rob him. In self-defence he stabbed one
in the chest and the other ran away.
Needless to say, my umbrella is stuck
in a place that's best forgotten by all.


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