The hour circled around an account of the swallow’s flight.
From the Rocca, the massive fortress tower of Umbertide,
The sky was a sewing pattern. Scissors feathered in black
Exposed the deceit of the evening blue, their dives
Cutting the air. Around the solid bastion’s gray
Stone grew a hyperbolic space curving forth and back,
As of singing wires, beyond unraveling, gossamer.
Or was that their twittering, that strident, piercing tone? Hundreds of swallows–the treacherous noise of the work,
When the threads are ripped, in the factory of the Fates.
Since accidents began to increase, and life to rack
The globe, what longs for fine distinctions? The keener ear, the gaze. The flight of birds is enough, in a bit of Umbrian sky.
It’s good the species have been identified, things tagged, filleted.
The latest Atrides paraded across the piazza, unperturbed.
But the hour had passed, the air show had ended, the lesson was done.
(Translated from the German by Andrew Shields)