Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Stefan Hertmans

CONVERSATION PIECE

We spoke about folds in speaking,
fissures lifting in the paths of breath
because we stood in the winds of the world,
rocking and listening 
whether perhaps a song was starting up in us,
something strong enough to stop us swaying.

But wavering in doubt we knew for
sure: it wasn’t beneath us it was shivering
where our ears were nailed
to the ground, but in another
continent that rumbled deep inside us.
Words that we had not spoken
took over from our invitation to the dance.

Outside people are shouting at windows
and we, cautiously shuffling
each on his own globe, we
don’t say anything at all but stare
our mouths wide open at the breakers
of all those outstretched hands
innumerable, floating gently in the gloaming.

CONVERSATION PIECE

CONVERSATION PIECE

Wij spraken over plooien in het spreken,
Lichtende kieren in de ademgang
Omdat we in het waaien van de wereld stonden,
Wiegend en luisterend
Of niet in ons een zang begon,
Iets wat ons wankelen kon tegengaan.

Maar schommelend in twijfel wisten wij
Het zeker: niet onder ons trilde het
Waar wij met oren aan de grond
Genageld waren, maar op een ander
Continent dat bromde, diep in ons.
Woorden die we niet gesproken hadden
Namen het over van onze aanzet tot de dans.

Buiten aan ramen wordt geschreeuwd
En wij, voorzichtig schuifelend
Elk op zijn eigen wereldbol,
Wij spreken niet maar staren
Met open monden naar de branding
Van die uitgestoken handen,
Ontelbaar, licht zwevend in de schemer.
Close

CONVERSATION PIECE

We spoke about folds in speaking,
fissures lifting in the paths of breath
because we stood in the winds of the world,
rocking and listening 
whether perhaps a song was starting up in us,
something strong enough to stop us swaying.

But wavering in doubt we knew for
sure: it wasn’t beneath us it was shivering
where our ears were nailed
to the ground, but in another
continent that rumbled deep inside us.
Words that we had not spoken
took over from our invitation to the dance.

Outside people are shouting at windows
and we, cautiously shuffling
each on his own globe, we
don’t say anything at all but stare
our mouths wide open at the breakers
of all those outstretched hands
innumerable, floating gently in the gloaming.

CONVERSATION PIECE

We spoke about folds in speaking,
fissures lifting in the paths of breath
because we stood in the winds of the world,
rocking and listening 
whether perhaps a song was starting up in us,
something strong enough to stop us swaying.

But wavering in doubt we knew for
sure: it wasn’t beneath us it was shivering
where our ears were nailed
to the ground, but in another
continent that rumbled deep inside us.
Words that we had not spoken
took over from our invitation to the dance.

Outside people are shouting at windows
and we, cautiously shuffling
each on his own globe, we
don’t say anything at all but stare
our mouths wide open at the breakers
of all those outstretched hands
innumerable, floating gently in the gloaming.
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