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BRÊGEMAN
wyldfrjemd wie sy net dy’t my it nijs brocht
fan dyn oankommend ferstjerren ik tocht
dan sil ik sjonge sjonge om wat
ik noch fan dy wit foar de helsdoarren

wei te skuorren krij ik it ferjitboek
op skoat en begjin út dit deade skrift
dat ik net machtiger bin as
hokker taal ek dy op te fiskjen

sasto my besochtst út in wek
ûnder in brêge te lûken en
sels yn panyk wiet pak hellest sa
sil dit liet my net mije kinne

kom heit byn my de houtsjes ûnder
ik haw de krappe jongeslearskes hast oan
kom byn my de houtsjes ûnder
it iis is tin as dyn wurge antlit
út wetterige eagen stoarrest my oan
kom noch ien kear út dyn tsjûk wollen grêf
en byn my de houtsjes ûnder
it wetter sil ús op him fleanen sjen


sa brocht mem ús bliid oan de wâlskant
dêr’t ús earste reis begûn mei har
yn ús gedachten oer trochsichtich swart
oer pas op sjoch stroffeltûken en

beferzen bleien vissticks grapke
ik besocht it iis te brekken mei
bernehumor mei bernehannen
mar do wiest by dyn wiif siik thús

en hast yn it berteplak de lannen
dêr’t troch wite wintertekken grien gers
bedimme waard grien gers dat foarhinne
dyn sachte soallen koe fuotten dy’t no

sûnder faam iensum mei my oer tryst wetter jagen
as gjin oar better noch as mem
koenen dizze sleatsjes en greiden dy
dit doarp mei it tsjerkhôf fol kunde

de gouden hoanne de spitse tsjerketoer
deun by it hûs de pleats dêrsto
dysels it stjoeren it drummen leardest
dêr’t jim heit dy galoppearjen seach

it sadel in neaken hynsterêch
ier gie de skeppe foar him de grûn yn
dy’t my trijerisom syn namme liende
doe’t ik noch gjin heit hjitte koe

kom byn my de houtsjes ûnder
ik haw de krappe griene jongeslearskes oan
byn my de houtsjes ûnder
it iis is tin as de tydlike ôfstân tusken ús
no’t ik oer de grinzen hinne dy droech oansjen kin
moatst my noch ien kear de houtsjes ûnderbine
of klim noch ien kear yn `e pinne
en lit it papier ús oer it iis fleanen
jagen janken sjen


fertel noch ris hoest de learaar
muzyk dy’t dy mei de kaaien lef
om `e earen reage rjocht
yn `e sek wâdest flaufallen sabeare

ferrektest it sorry te sizzen
tsjin direkteuren bleaust koart foar de kop
thús dêrst tusken it krûme en it rjochte
dyn eigen djippe paad fan begrutsjen eidest

swier as stien lei it brek oan ferjeffenis
yn `e búk doest it krús net mear
om `e nekke ha koest en jim mem
gjin himels hûs mear hie om op dy te wachtsjen

byn my de houtsjes ûnder heit
dizze wrâld is de echte
tusken my en har wiesto de brêgeman
no is it slim simmer lizze de houtsjes
yn it fet yn `e kelder
foar ús dânsje skriuwerkes op it wetter
it wetter is as in blau laai
sa skjin sa tsjuster
BRIDGEMASTER
no total stranger she who brought the news
of your impending death I thought
I’ll sing then sing to salvage all
the things I know as yours before
  
the gates of hell I take the book
of forgetting on my lap and start
to fish you up from this dead script
more foreign still than any tongue
  
just like the time you tried to pull me out
of a hole in the ice under a bridge
panicked and ended in the drink yourself
I can’t escape this song
  
come father strap my skates on now
I’ve almost got my boyhood wellies on
come strap my skates on now
the ice is thin like your exhausted face
you stare at me through watering eyes
rise up from that thick woollen grave
and strap on my skates
the water will see us fly above it

  
mother brought us happy to the shore
where our first trip began with her
in our thoughts over transparent black
over careful watch out snags sticking up
  
frozen bream fish fingers I joked
trying to break the ice with
childish humour with childish hands
but you were with your wife sick at home
  
and almost in your place of birth the farms
blanketed winter-white over dumbstruck
grass green grass which once had known
the soft soles of the feet that now
  
alone with me without a girl raced over sad water
better than anyone else even mother
these ditches and fields knew you
this village with its churchyard full of familiar faces
  
the golden cock the sharp steeple
close to the farm where you
taught yourself shortwave and snare drum
where your father saw you galloping

no saddle bareback on the horse
the spade cut the ground early for him
who leant me his name three times
when I was too young to be called a father
  
come and strap on my skates
I’ve got the tight green wellies on
strap on my skates
the ice is thin as the temporary distance between us
now that I can look at you dry-eyed across the line
strap my skates on one last time
or climb once more into the pen
and let the paper see us flying racing
howling over ice

  
tell me again about the time you kicked
your music teacher who’d hit you hard
and gutless on the ear with a bunch of keys
right between the legs a so-called fainting fit
  
refused point-blank to apologise
authorities always pissed you off
at home where between the crooked and the straight
you ploughed your own deep path of pity
  
heavy as stone the lack of forgiveness balled
in your gut when you couldn’t wear the cross
round your neck and your mother no longer
had a heavenly home to wait for you in
  
strap on my skates father
this world is what’s real
between her and me you were the bridgemaster
summer has set in now my skates
are greased in the cellar
before us whirligig beetles dance on the water
the water is blue like slate
so beautiful so dark
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: Translated from the poet’s Dutch translation