Poems by Margreet Schouwenaar / Translated by Liselotte Demmers

Poems by Margreet Schouwenaar
 
 
MOTHER
 
The night when your light disappeared and I
did not know where to find myself
was the night when I had to write words
that had never been said – about roads
left behind, roads leading ahead, about that
moment when you tore loose, the imprint
of your absence. But the curtains were
closed, your body was washed, and unseen were your eyes.
No smile was left, no crack of light,
no promise offering hope. What could I possibly do with
words now time was no longer
soft and tangible, now,
 
now that every name seemed slaughtered,
all encouters meant to be. Now that
every movement, every breath had proven
to be finite. What would become of me now all
was over, all surrendered to time
without ado, but I still loved the world, every
new birth, every being, every goodbye.
 
Do you remember the summer when I held your hand,
your glance for someone else, your mouth, your
moves; you let me go and I, five, slipped away into the
ocean. The endless ocean, unknown streams
pulling me. You did not notice. The outgoing tide rippling me along.
In one flash, one moment in time,
you finished my solitude by just one motion.
 
Can you do it again, now, where we are at
a point where all is repeated, everything starts, so
that we, we, will end up on the road, the road that
leads to the house that no longer is?
 
 
 
WHEN
 
When I was young, when you were here,
when so much was unknown and so much
unforeseen
When it was never late, and days
were always new, when only mummy raged and time outgrew the time
to save bygones to days of old. When,
 
when looking became time, and halting
dragging on, when opportunities were found
to have been missed and presence lost its future.
When all words
fell apart and days seemed to escape
absorbed by shades, questions, habits, rampantly growing like pennywort. When,
 
when until now: the somewhere in which time
is fluttering like moths around my skull, just
time for smaller things until
the larger death. Today I wanted to sing by the sea
with wave over wave in the blue of a
story. I heard my words but shortly,
the wind I did not know from where
 
silently took them away.
 
 
 
NO LONGER AMAZED
 
As democracy screams no more,
and humans are made into models for
the eyes of the world, and models into humans,
I am no longer amazed when mouths are lost in
the stucco of yet another housing project.
 
People don’t walk alone anymore, hands
folded on backs, staying there;
happiness scales are stored in a safe
and doves flying by, green twigs
clasped in beaks. Curtains closed, land
paved.
 
People no longer bloom, nor do they walk
down the riverside to meet the only one, and just once
in a while does one see a man or woman
with hair freshly done, noses up against
the window, staring, waiting for wings and sometimes
thinking …. but then
 
to realize: it is just a garbage bag,
dancing to the breath of the wind.
 
 
I AM NOT HERE
 
I’m not alone, I see rummaging
sparrows, a woman without a coat.
I wonder what man would be
without a hand of clothing.
Thoughts of cold, no words, loneliness,
sticking like band-aid on
a wound that fails to heal. I am here in
words, before and after; in
language tending to the present, to a
today, and to the sparrows,
maybe closer, feathers
meaningfully closed, yet without a coat, somewhat like me with two coats in a closet, one for summer, one
for winter, and with some shoes
in which I used to be.
From how much fear is love created,
from how much missing existence?
Street calls echo. Sparrows lecture
in my absence. What I see is a
faded coat over worn shoes, and
I am not there. It is my head that
prattles, chirping for ground and wishing
for hands to spread feathers. I am not there.
© Margreet Schouwenaar
Translated by Liselotte Demmers
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