The drowned flats

For Theunis Piersma

 

Last night I saw the mudflats drowned.
Restlessness took hold of the towns
and villages. The underwater bells
tolled in the tops of the trees.

The Stone Man was up to his neck.
Dikes washed away, ripped
open like a summer frock. A country
disappeared in rising seas.

Drifting islands rolled drunkenly
past Holwerd, further and further
into the inundated landscape.
Last night I saw the mudflats drowned.

And floating in attics and towers,
uprooted like trees, the dead
rose on waves as dark
and gloomy as primordial soup.

It is the year twenty-one
twenty-one. At the tabernacle
of time and tide a magician
turns the clock back to a long,

hot summer with islands, raised up
from sandbanks where flocks
of birds cry Africa, Africa.
Last night I saw the mudflats drowned.

 

 

 

Translation: David Colmer