Excerpt From The Passport

January 22, 2010

posted by Caroline Picard

Written by Herta Muller

The Clasp Knife

excerpt from The Passport

by Herta Muller

Windisch is sitting in front of the kitchen window. He’s shaving. He’s painting white foam across his face. The foam crunches on his cheeks. Windisch spreads the snow around his mouth with the tip of his finger. He looks in the mirror. He can see the kitchen door in it. And his face.

Windisch sees that he has painted too much snow on his face. he sses his mouth lying in the snow. He feels that he can’t speak because of the snow in his nostrils and the snow on his chin.

Windisch opens the clas-knife. He tests the blade of the knife against his finger. He places the blade under his eyes. His cheek bone doesn’t move. With his other hand Windisch pulls falt the wrinkles under his eye. He looks out of the window. He sees the green grass.

The clasp-knife jerks. The blade burns.

Windisch has a wound under his eye for many weeks. It’s rd. It has a soft edge of pus. And every evening there’s plenty of flour dust in it.

A crust has been growing under Windisch’s eye for several days.

Each morning, Windisch leaves the house with the crust. When he unlocks the mill door, when he has put the padlock in his pocket, Windisch touches his cheek. The crust has gone.

“Perhaps the crust is lying in the pot hole,” he thinks.

When it’s light outside, Windisch goes to the mill pond. He kneels down in the grass. He looks at his face in the water. Small cricles eddy in his ear. His hair disturbs the picture.

Windisch has a crooked, white scar under his eye.

A reed is bent. It opens and closes beside his hand. The reed has a brown blade.


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