Wim van Til (Netherlands)

Wim van Til (Netherlands)
 
Wim van Til (Leiden, 1955), teacher and poet, debuted in 1980 (dichtmaken open). He published two more volumes in 1987 and 1992. These three volumes were then combined and published with additional material in 2000 (Sleutelhouder, poems 1979-1999). He also published two bibliophile editions: Aaltense zangen and De reestap over het leenveld. This was followed in 2005 by a bibliophile publication (In G.) and a new volume in 2010: Omwegen. He is founder (in 2000) and director of the Dutch Poetry Center in Nijmegen.
 
 
Time and time again
 
Someone said yesterday and we sat
directly in the history of repetition,
the gaze of you and I.
 
Someone said when I was young. We looked him
in the face, it was naked as today and it wore
the trace of clapped-out years; the left eye hung awry.
 
Someone said wait a sec, I’ve been here
before. This smoke screen is familiar, it rises
from the misty fields and swims through the wood.
 
Someone said this music that’s it, with it you travel
completely free through the entire kingdom
with the princely steam-train.
 
Someone said the geese are migrating south
what are we waiting for, you and I. We’ll be
on our way for days.
 
Someone said just look though, that chick in
the hole in the ice. None of us looked, the window
stayed shut.
 
Someone raised a finger and spoke old-testament words
that no one understood. There was no way through,
the air grew thick.
 
Someone said I want this and held a talisman
between the teeth. Hunger is a strange
friend, my friend.
 
Someone stood at a crossroads, saw the river
forking in the valley. “I have no small
boats ready”, he read aloud.
 
Someone said I know a man
who couldn’t get well again. He’s
probably dead by now.
 
Someone said these are alder buckthorn they must be cleared
I like to have the garden neatly trimmed
and this time right on time.
 
Someone stood up and said I am that man, I’ve seen
it all umpteen times before. Who rakes the old
leaves from the grass.
 
Someone counted the months. Someone looked
in the mirror and saw all these words in the candlelight
of the season spread out on the table.
The dog sniffed keenly at the Christmas fare, while
the rabbit shrank fearfully back from the bowl.
There were 3 sitting in the room; they remained silent.
 
 
 
I seek my mother
 
The arms of the Old Rhine are the arms
of my mother. They reach to her other side.
I learnt to fish there time and time again; she saw me as I was.
 
What do you see in a landscape that changes before
your eyes, a twist in the river and an altered course.
The other side lies here, the Rhine feeds it with its water.
 
If you want to know what mustard tastes like, try it
after the meal. It tastes of home-sickness, of
longing; it tastes like water. You drink it
and it is not there.
 
My mother stretches out her arms, I run
towards her over the ice and once more am at
the white small church. The congregation weeps at the sea
that takes away and the congregation nods at the child
that is baptized. It is water and it is not there.
 
I seek my mother and the fishes know that she is
not there. It is water and it is nothing. The fishes know
the boy who did not catch them, they know the mother
who protected them. Her ashes feed the roots of
this tree, as does the water.
 
The arms of the Old Rhine are the arms
of my mother. She waves me to the other side.
 
 
This orchard
 
In this garden the just consumed
apple eats into its image, scent of knowledge
in a recorded act. The clouds turn
looking for the sea.
 
Her lips moist with the flesh of fruit
crave for an order, a death
blow written down, a paper serpent more
or less, longing or leaving.
 
This cram-full tree, this fright in the garden,
this stained skin, her striped face.
She is so naked, so without shelter.
In a flash all is gone, fulfilled.

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