The Diver

Oswald von Wolkenstein, translated from the German by Richard Sieburth

Then there was the time
I tried to learn to swim
in a deep lake,
but once in,
shot straight
to the floor,
out of sight, out of mind,
a good hour or more.
Nice & cold down there
as I went looking for fish
with my nose-tip,
but then I fell for her
hook, line & sinker
and that sweet little stinker
snared me like a common thief,
she whom I held so dear
to heart, causing me
all this untold pain & grief.
Not smart on my part.
Had she only died
some time before,
she who still poses
such a threat,
which I realized
as I rode toward Hungary,
still in love, still alone
still accident-prone.
The weather rainy
all the way there,
me learning a few words
of Magyar, chill
to the tongue,
drinking my fill
of the Tauggel waterfall
that plunges down
from the high cliffs,
into which, a fool,
I splashed & nearly
drowned,
escaping by a hair,
wet to the bone.
I’d bet any precious stone,
however well-buffed,
however well-cut,
that no man in a hundred
could survive such
dumb, headlong
dives into love.