Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Erik Menkveld

HOW WE SPOKE

How spontaneously we still spoke
in our well blooded quick to laugh
and clumsy bodies Gerard when
we drove round the great due to smoking
wheelchair dependent smoker Zbigniew
Herbert also the great poet here in your
words going through the maritime museum –
how spontaneously we still spoke when
beside this wheezy frail and nearly
dead roguish bully and then just before
closing time he had to get himself some
books on shipbuilding in the United Provinces
of the Netherlands and laughing we
pushed him forcefully through the museum’s
gift shop about to close but he had all the time
in the world and so did we and he was
loading as though his life depended on it
everything he’d always wanted into
his lap and we convincingly excused him:
this Mister needs to return to Poland in
the morning and we lent him the money as what he
fished from his pockets under the impatient
gaze of the check-out girl was hardly
wink yes what were we thinking –
oh Gerard how did I speak you speak
spontaneously still each in our own
back stabbing body that wasn’t about
to silence us I thought
I think you thought.

WAT SPRAKEN WIJ

WAT SPRAKEN WIJ

Wat spraken wij vanzelf nog allebei
in onze weldoorbloede goedlachse
schutterige lichamen Gerard toen
we samen de grote van het roken
rolstoelbehoevende roker Zbigniew
Herbert de grote dichter ook
hier in jouw woorden rondreden
door het Scheepvaartmuseum –
wat spraken wij vanzelf nog toen
naast deze amechtige broze al bijna
dode olijke dwingeland en toen moest
hij tegen sluitingstijd ook nog
boeken over de scheepsbouw
in de Republiek der Vereenigde
Nederlanden kopen en duwden
wij hem lachend krachtig
de museumshop door die sloot
maar hij had alle tijd en wij
ook en hij laadde of zijn leven
ervan afhing alles wat zijn
hart begeerde in zijn schoot
en wij verontschuldigden hem
overtuigend: deze Meneer
moet morgenochtend weer
naar Polen en we schoten hem
voor want wat hij onder het
ongeduldig oog van de kassadame
uit zijn zakken wist te vissen
bleek bij lange na niet meer
knipoog ja wat dachten wij –
ach Gerard wat sprak ik wat sprak jij
toen nog vanzelf elk in ons eigen
achterbakse lijf dat ons nog even
niet de mond ging snoeren dacht ik
denk ik dacht jij.
Close

HOW WE SPOKE

How spontaneously we still spoke
in our well blooded quick to laugh
and clumsy bodies Gerard when
we drove round the great due to smoking
wheelchair dependent smoker Zbigniew
Herbert also the great poet here in your
words going through the maritime museum –
how spontaneously we still spoke when
beside this wheezy frail and nearly
dead roguish bully and then just before
closing time he had to get himself some
books on shipbuilding in the United Provinces
of the Netherlands and laughing we
pushed him forcefully through the museum’s
gift shop about to close but he had all the time
in the world and so did we and he was
loading as though his life depended on it
everything he’d always wanted into
his lap and we convincingly excused him:
this Mister needs to return to Poland in
the morning and we lent him the money as what he
fished from his pockets under the impatient
gaze of the check-out girl was hardly
wink yes what were we thinking –
oh Gerard how did I speak you speak
spontaneously still each in our own
back stabbing body that wasn’t about
to silence us I thought
I think you thought.

HOW WE SPOKE

How spontaneously we still spoke
in our well blooded quick to laugh
and clumsy bodies Gerard when
we drove round the great due to smoking
wheelchair dependent smoker Zbigniew
Herbert also the great poet here in your
words going through the maritime museum –
how spontaneously we still spoke when
beside this wheezy frail and nearly
dead roguish bully and then just before
closing time he had to get himself some
books on shipbuilding in the United Provinces
of the Netherlands and laughing we
pushed him forcefully through the museum’s
gift shop about to close but he had all the time
in the world and so did we and he was
loading as though his life depended on it
everything he’d always wanted into
his lap and we convincingly excused him:
this Mister needs to return to Poland in
the morning and we lent him the money as what he
fished from his pockets under the impatient
gaze of the check-out girl was hardly
wink yes what were we thinking –
oh Gerard how did I speak you speak
spontaneously still each in our own
back stabbing body that wasn’t about
to silence us I thought
I think you thought.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère