Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Marije Langelaar

Drum

That year we were born in
a body.
We noticed we were beating.                                      
We were beating the drum.

Birds flew up at each strike.
On every fourth beat a new season commenced.
On every 16th beat I bore a child.            
          
We lived our lives like this.
We beat away the years.
Bam bam bam!
We beat the drum.
We simply beat the drum.
Since that was what we had learned.
We beat the drum.

Bam bam bam!
The birds flew up.
Bam bam bam!
A new season,
Bam bam bam!
Another baby.
Bam bam!

Until our bodies began to become disfigured, then we beat                               
even harder, against the wrinkles, the crumpling
our reduced fertility, the stiffness in our legs.

Bam bam bam!
But no baby came.

We beat even harder, our beating gained
a dogged tone,
until we stopped at the 428th note.
We looked at each other and all the children
I had given birth to,
wild wicked children                       
with wild wicked hair.

And we looked at the trees that had grown
crisscross through each other                               
A gigantic mess.
The birds on a branch nervously awaiting
our next strike.

But we didn’t beat
We stopped beating

We looked at each other and sawed down the trees
built a house,  buried the drum deep in the nut-black earth.

And began to live. We pealed and cooked the fruit
and told our children the story of the drum
and we didn’t strike, no new seasons commenced,
The birds rested in a tall willow.
And all was good.

And we ask ourselves, who gave us that drum in the first place?
Who commanded us to beat it? Who brought us the birds, the trees?
Who laid down the rhythm? And where we before? Why?

Trommel

Trommel

Dat jaar werden we geboren in
een lichaam.
Het viel ons op dat we sloegen.
We sloegen de trom.

Bij elke slag vlogen de vogels op.
Bij elke vierde noot ving een nieuw seizoen aan.
Bij elke 16e noot wierp ik een kind.

Zo leefden we ons leven.
We sloegen de jaren weg.
Paf paf paf!
We sloegen de trom.
We sloegen eenvoudig de trom.
Want dat hadden we geleerd.
We sloegen de trom.

Paf paf paf!
De vlogels vliegen op.
Paf Paf Paf!
Een nieuw seizoen,
Paf Paf Paf!
Weer een kind.
Paf Paf!

Tot onze lichamen begonnen te deformeren, we sloegen
nog harder, tegen de rimpels, het kreukelen
onze verminderde vruchtbaarheid, een stram in ons been.

Paf Paf Paf!
Maar het kind bleef uit.

We sloegen nog wat harder, onze slag kreeg
iets verbetens,
tot we op de 428e noot halt hielden.
We keken naar elkaar en alle kinderen die
ik had geworpen,
wilde goddeloze kinderen,
met wilde goddeloze haren.

En we keken naar de bomen die waren gaan groeien,
Kris kras door elkaar
Een grote teringbende.
De vogels die nerveus op een tak onze
volgende slag afwachtten.

Maar we sloegen niet
We sloegen niet meer

We keken elkaar aan en zaagden de bomen
bouwden een huis, begroeven de trommel diep in de nootzwarte aarde.

En begonnen te leven. We pelden en kookten de vruchten
en vertelden onze kinderen het verhaal van de trommel
en we sloegen niet, er brak geen nieuw seizoen aan,
De vogels rusten in een hoge wilg.
En het was goed.

En we vroegen ons af, wie had ons in de eerste plaats die trommel gegeven?
Wie had ons geboden te slaan? Had ons die vogels gebracht, de bomen?
Had ons het ritme opgelegd? En waar waren we eerder? Waarom?
Close

Drum

That year we were born in
a body.
We noticed we were beating.                                      
We were beating the drum.

Birds flew up at each strike.
On every fourth beat a new season commenced.
On every 16th beat I bore a child.            
          
We lived our lives like this.
We beat away the years.
Bam bam bam!
We beat the drum.
We simply beat the drum.
Since that was what we had learned.
We beat the drum.

Bam bam bam!
The birds flew up.
Bam bam bam!
A new season,
Bam bam bam!
Another baby.
Bam bam!

Until our bodies began to become disfigured, then we beat                               
even harder, against the wrinkles, the crumpling
our reduced fertility, the stiffness in our legs.

Bam bam bam!
But no baby came.

We beat even harder, our beating gained
a dogged tone,
until we stopped at the 428th note.
We looked at each other and all the children
I had given birth to,
wild wicked children                       
with wild wicked hair.

And we looked at the trees that had grown
crisscross through each other                               
A gigantic mess.
The birds on a branch nervously awaiting
our next strike.

But we didn’t beat
We stopped beating

We looked at each other and sawed down the trees
built a house,  buried the drum deep in the nut-black earth.

And began to live. We pealed and cooked the fruit
and told our children the story of the drum
and we didn’t strike, no new seasons commenced,
The birds rested in a tall willow.
And all was good.

And we ask ourselves, who gave us that drum in the first place?
Who commanded us to beat it? Who brought us the birds, the trees?
Who laid down the rhythm? And where we before? Why?

Drum

That year we were born in
a body.
We noticed we were beating.                                      
We were beating the drum.

Birds flew up at each strike.
On every fourth beat a new season commenced.
On every 16th beat I bore a child.            
          
We lived our lives like this.
We beat away the years.
Bam bam bam!
We beat the drum.
We simply beat the drum.
Since that was what we had learned.
We beat the drum.

Bam bam bam!
The birds flew up.
Bam bam bam!
A new season,
Bam bam bam!
Another baby.
Bam bam!

Until our bodies began to become disfigured, then we beat                               
even harder, against the wrinkles, the crumpling
our reduced fertility, the stiffness in our legs.

Bam bam bam!
But no baby came.

We beat even harder, our beating gained
a dogged tone,
until we stopped at the 428th note.
We looked at each other and all the children
I had given birth to,
wild wicked children                       
with wild wicked hair.

And we looked at the trees that had grown
crisscross through each other                               
A gigantic mess.
The birds on a branch nervously awaiting
our next strike.

But we didn’t beat
We stopped beating

We looked at each other and sawed down the trees
built a house,  buried the drum deep in the nut-black earth.

And began to live. We pealed and cooked the fruit
and told our children the story of the drum
and we didn’t strike, no new seasons commenced,
The birds rested in a tall willow.
And all was good.

And we ask ourselves, who gave us that drum in the first place?
Who commanded us to beat it? Who brought us the birds, the trees?
Who laid down the rhythm? And where we before? Why?
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