from Eyestone

Hester Knibbe


Take water, evident, that feeds the seas
or wind that blows and turns apathetically,
the grass that grows and once again gets
mowed, or us, growing larger at first,
then shrinking wrinkling simplifying
to nothing: always changing. Or

more capriciously: you'll get from A to Z, but then
—just about at J—suddenly fate stands
in your way and takes you off. Where to?

The water shacked up with seas knows.
The wind that leaves no trace knows.
The grass stutters it out under the blade.


The gate stands open and the path upward
has been studded with superstition and sun. We
strap on bag and camera. The thin
sand that plaits itself into skins leaves

the spot with us. We got here
by memory and tarnished hope:
there'd be temples, high-sounding hymns.

Remnants of stone ordered in the array of death
bluntly set us straight: neither god nor
muse is praised, Apollo has vanished.
Someone has roped that loss off.

Tall, blonde, bronzed—that's the way I pictured him,
I say. You laugh, wander off where
an indistinct arch blends you into antiquity.

And for a moment you alter the centuries,
become the player who just left me,
you play the oldest, cruelest
game: I love you I love you not.


This is the waterfront you walked along
whistling a new spring song, walking
hand in hand with your love. Same banks

but the water isn't, that water
is long gone and what grew then

has blown over. The land lends air
to desolation. This is the waterfront

where you whistled—past tense, the horizon
is tainted with your death, winter
just won't get out

of what the cow parsley brushes aside.

translated from the Dutch by Jacquelyn Pope