The Ditches

Milk Strike 1943, Oudega
Bouke de Vries (1907-1943)
Broer de Witte (1923-1943)


The day seemed bright as Postma’s days,
    the Fliet was smooth and over ponds and pools
the sun shone like a glittering fish.
    High above the green of farms, time
unfolded every dream, encompassing
    the thought that life is of a piece. *

Just picture it! But the peaceful joy
    was only show. Turmoil was stewing
in those clouds and here and there a tower
    bowed its head. The milk would run like blood
into the ditches: resisting those who’d
    try to steal the very heart of freedom.

Heels came down on temples and the blinded
    day succumbed to guns and violence.
Without god or angels, time passes still,
    as empty as the train from Stavoren to Sneek,
which runs between horizons of indifference.
    What makes life of a piece for us today?



Translation: David Colmer

* referring to a line of poetry by Obe Postma