Arjun von Caemmerer
For Hanna Neumann (1914-1971)
Stolid. Brown. Plastic.
The Acme Of Uncool. And yet,
This instrument was once owned & blown
By one who, defiant and smoking,
Strolled right past the Nazis;
Who forsook her own country
To raise five children in exile;
Who foraged wildflowers and mushrooms
To fill her bicycle basket
While her husband went wandering.
Exploring pure mathematics,
She broke beyond brackets
Until a blood vessel burst,
Flood-drowned her brain.
A University building now carries her name.
Sometimes I blow her Bakelite blockflöte,
Digits & breath rerouting resistance
Rediscovering and rendering
Hanna’s past loves — her Telemann & Co.,
Whose Art of Expiring transfigures time.