Meret Oppenheim

Translated from the German and French by Kathleen Heil

My Girlfriend’s Dog

I adore my girlfriend’s dog.
He has such a lovely way of
saying ‘yes.’ He says ‘yes’ when he’s
forgotten. And has no harsh words for
those who compare themselves to him.
Spring sets up shop wherever
he goes. If he cries, nature loses
its plumes. If he happens to be
in a good mood, he tactfully brings
his hand to his mouth to eavesdrop
on its deepest secrets within.
Like every good being he has
two souls in each chest and
twenty-five in hand and foot.


The Rottweiler snaps at the golden ring.
The fairy is good but the coffee hard, the
granite soft-boiled as a cover of cat fur.
Boys, men, old men.
They sit on the wall, deliberating. Taking turns
offering their explanations. The cobblestones spring up
from the ground like fresh springs and take off in all
directions. You could say that something is
wrong. But it’s just the secret forces
you’ve been waiting for since dawn. The stones
fly all the way to the north seacoast where they
get caught in silvery threads,
swaying in the morning sun.

I feel my gaze make its way to the forest
and the moon.
I feel my compass bearing towards these
nourishing proverbs.
And yet—my beautiful crocodile,
crocodile of my heart,
where is your pride headed to?

The forest and fields are no longer visible, nearly,
the mist hides the meadows where forgotten crops
drop their seeds. The evening sun reposes
on a honey-colored cloud,
dangling its skeletal hand as shadowy
waves pass through its fingers. At the edge
of the woods a lost hunter asks the deer for a glass of water.
Stillness abounds.

The Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim (1913–1985) was born in Berlin-Charlottenburg and died in Basel. Best known for Object, her fur-lined teacup from 1936, her expansive body of work included painting, works on paper, and object constructions, as well as jewelry designs, public sculpture commissions, and poetry. From 2021–2023 her work is the subject of a major exhibition, the first transatlantic retrospective of her work, a collaboration between MoMA, The Menil Collection, and Kunstmuseum Bern.

Kathleen Heil (b. 1982) is an artist working with languages of the body and written word, whose practice encompasses dance/performance and the writing and translating of poetry and prose. Her work appears in The New Yorker, Fence, Two Lines, The Threepenny Review, and other journals. She is the recipient of grants from the NEA, German Translators’ Fund, and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among others. Originally from New Orleans, she lives and works in Berlin.

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