Around the war memorial are roses. They form a thicket. So overgrown that they suffocate the grass. Their blooms are white, rolled tight like paper. They rustle. Dawn is breaking. Soon it will be day.

Every morning, as he cycles alone along the road to the mill, Windisch counts the day. In front of the war memorial he counts the years. By the first poplar tree beyond it, where he always hits the same pot hole, he counts the days. And in the evening, when Windisch locks up the mill, he counts the years and the days once again.

He can see the small white roses, the war memorial and the poplar tree from far away. And when it is foggy, the white of the roses and the white of the stone is close in front of him as he rides. Windisch rides on. Windisch’s face is damp, and he rides till he’s there. Twice the thorns on the rose thicket were bare and the weeds underneath were rusty. Twice the poplar was so bare that its wood almost split. Twice there was snow on the paths.

-Herta Muller