Tuesday, May 31, 2016

There Is Always by Hester Knibbe

There Is Always

There is always a first
head that you draw
with two
eyes no
mouth yet
arms and legs no
hands and feet. There is

always a first
mouth that appears
in the slapdash
head without
though you quickly
learn that


is how smiles are drawn
how sadness seems.

Even when the nest
is a mishmash
of chance
the egg gets laid
and breaks
in the end.

What you’re after is

not the shell
that protects you
but a frail
brokenness: daring
that movement
without awareness of
repetition boredom


Meanwhile the egg
scratches its happiness and
rightness together,
as the hand belonging to
the slapdash
starts an uncompleted

curve: it’s time it’s time it’s

time for études cantatas
aubades quatre-mains
escapades a nimble-fingered
exploration of questions with the whole
body fervently confessing
the complete catechism
of love and

answering: yes
that’s why.

There is always a first

doubt: what for. Knocked at the gods’ door, but
they were not in, had other hassles to manage: grass
that modified, suddenly denigrated its roots wanted no more to do
with them, air was enough for it. I dug and dug in the earth
constantly finding under and under but once exhumed it was
a mountain where each answer every surprise
had to find itself among the others.

Then I went walking in wind and into a light
that did not cease as long as I walked in that light
as long as it skimmed over my earth. It had
no above or below, no left or right, nowhere
a middle, I could not put my hand on it, it laid
itself on my hand and my head and slipped sparkling
from under my feet when I tried to walk over it.

Like a jay bird
setting stores for winter I keep
a stock of snatched moments. In that

photo they are far
stronger than us, power flexes
in their muscles and we stand by like

their begetters: marginal figures

who re-read even now, shut books
search in cupboards for passwords,
who—their heads a woozy place for drifters and the blind—still

know how to crack codes, retrieve
the most fleeting names in a tangle of webs.

Now that the land is being robbed of foliage
the trees stand dressed in their evening wear of bark

the honey sugars and we
scrape summer’s fruit from the jam pots

something in us inaudible as snow begins

to loosen. The eye in the slapdash
head, without the burden of hands and feet, finds the way

to the path by the buckthorn, above it
a flight of drunken birds, walks back into a light that

just won’t, sees in that light banally prophetic: there is always a final

breach of membrane and shell.

Let us burn

the old letters, watch all the beautiful
rain-drenched sun-bleached words and lines
go up in flames while shamelessly

retaining their contents. We’ve been
lucky, oh what we’ve been—
                                                        Let us
explore other cities, wander through new
streets, past buskers and rough sleepers,
get used to leaving.
                                                        Let us

eat there and drink and give

the singer enough to get drunk on
the beggar what he deserves.

(Translated by Jacquelyn Pope)


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