Eeltsje Hettinga 15/09/2017

Under the Cities

Last night a heavy snowfall whitewashed all the clocks.
Docks and factories, squares and ships
were all asleep.
Where I wandered, lost half in thought,
I saw, in blue streetlight,
a father, a brother
and their harried shades,
black as the horse that cantered once
through songs and bodies.
The ponds and waterways were frozen over,
slabs beneath the wintry sky.
By the Blockhouse Gate I stood and stared.

To the sonorous sound of a tenor sax,
a dog barked out its cold disquiet.
Further along a ship slipped from the quay,
breaking a path
through the creaking ice,
floating off under the cities of night.
I saw the shades of a father, a brother,
a vanishing into a universe that doesn’t signify.
Of all that’s gone and disappeared, I
am the abandoned city, with homes and shops
and a courthouse whose walls are blank.
By the Blockhouse Gate I stood and stared.



Translation: David Colmer