Eeltsje Hettinga 15/08/2019



A bottle of water. A chunk of bread. Enough
for a trip that only lasts a day shift
over the ocean. Obeying the dream
of making England unseen, hidden
in the wheel well of a Boeing. Ascension.

A jolt and judder, engines
start, a roar as fierce as every
urge, beyond starvation,
the terror, everything you thought
out in those blue hours.


Above your head, a level higher, people
listen to music, watch movies,
app with the folks at home the way
you pictured them, Sunday strolling
over London Bridge, saying, Almost there.

The shudders. The fear. The bone-breaking
turbulence. Blows. Your body
gasping for breath, cold clasping
your heart the higher you go into
the heavens, the frozen words.


Out of the sky over Mortlake a life
came plunging down, smashing into
an English garden to a scream
from a sunbathing girl. The pigeons
fluttered up. How of a dream

in summer’s summit nothing might be left
but a hole in the gravel. You, Icarus’s brother,
a man without a name, without a country,
but in all your anonymity, world famous
still for just a second. God’s cruel scam.



Translation: David Colmer
(1 ) ‘Mortlake’, written in response to an article in the NRC about a stowaway falling from the wheel well of a passenger jet flying from Kenya to London.