Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Roelof ten Napel

night

why is love blind? because I look at you and you look at me
and there’s no end to this back and forth, no light enters
between our gazes – love is blind
because we make night in between us –
a night like the first night in which I no longer prayed to a god
and only said: if you are not here, lord, who can I tell that to?
and now I lie here, boy, on your chest and you feel me shaking, which means
that I’m getting lighter – how did you break me open so fast?
with your black hair, a flock of ravens, a dark rocky landscape,
a cutting wind – like the blackness you emerged from and in which I
slowly begin to see you – eye to eye, eye to eye to eye, I didn’t know
that that meant carrying someone, constantly falling towards each other –
 
I didn’t know that love is not blind not because it doesn’t see
but because it’s found something that’s more than visible,
because it saw that the darkness at the centre of each gaze is
darkness returning to you so that you can forgive it again,
time after time after time, constantly falling, the way it falls silent
in the middle of each word, yes, but there is something in the middle of that
silence that cuts that word, like a thinner line a thin line,
in two, and gives each of us half
so that I can take my word and put it in my gaze
in the hope that over the course of this falling both halves
will touch again, seeming to be able to say something to each other
that doesn’t come from anywhere else, so that we will always have been here

nacht

nacht

waarom is de liefde blind? omdat ik je aankijk en jij me aankijkt
en er geen einde komt aan deze weerkaatsing, er geen licht komt
tussen onze blikken — de liefde is blind
omdat we het samen, tussen ons in, nacht maken —
een nacht zoals de eerste nacht waarin ik tot geen god meer bad
en enkel nog zei: als u er niet bent, heere, bij wie kan ik dat dan kwijt?
en nu lig ik hier, jongen, op je borst, en je voelt me trillen, dat betekent
dat ik lichter word — hoe heb je me zo vlug opengebroken?
met je zwarte haar, een vlucht raven, een donker rotsachtig landschap,
een snijdende wind — als het zwart waaruit je voortkwam en waarin ik
je langzaam begin te zien — oog in oog, oog in oog in oog, ik wist niet
dat dat betekende iemand te dragen, elkaar voortdurend toe te vallen —


ik wist niet dat de liefde niet blind is omdat ze iets niet ziet,
maar omdat ze iets gevonden heeft wat méér dan zichtbaar is,
omdat ze inzag dat het donker in het midden van elke blik donker is
dat bij je terugkeert, zodat je het weer vergeven kunt,
keer op keer op keer, voortdurend vallend, zoals het stilvalt
in het midden van elk woord, ja, maar er in het midden van die stilte
iets zit dat dat woord, als een dunnere lijn een dunne lijn,
in tweeën snijdt, en elk van ons een helft geeft,
zodat ik mijn woord kan nemen en in mijn blik kan leggen
in de hoop dat in de loop van al dit vallen de beide helften
elkaar weer aanraken, elkaar iets lijken te kunnen zeggen
wat nergens anders vandaan komt, zodat wij er altijd zullen zijn geweest
Close

night

why is love blind? because I look at you and you look at me
and there’s no end to this back and forth, no light enters
between our gazes – love is blind
because we make night in between us –
a night like the first night in which I no longer prayed to a god
and only said: if you are not here, lord, who can I tell that to?
and now I lie here, boy, on your chest and you feel me shaking, which means
that I’m getting lighter – how did you break me open so fast?
with your black hair, a flock of ravens, a dark rocky landscape,
a cutting wind – like the blackness you emerged from and in which I
slowly begin to see you – eye to eye, eye to eye to eye, I didn’t know
that that meant carrying someone, constantly falling towards each other –
 
I didn’t know that love is not blind not because it doesn’t see
but because it’s found something that’s more than visible,
because it saw that the darkness at the centre of each gaze is
darkness returning to you so that you can forgive it again,
time after time after time, constantly falling, the way it falls silent
in the middle of each word, yes, but there is something in the middle of that
silence that cuts that word, like a thinner line a thin line,
in two, and gives each of us half
so that I can take my word and put it in my gaze
in the hope that over the course of this falling both halves
will touch again, seeming to be able to say something to each other
that doesn’t come from anywhere else, so that we will always have been here

night

why is love blind? because I look at you and you look at me
and there’s no end to this back and forth, no light enters
between our gazes – love is blind
because we make night in between us –
a night like the first night in which I no longer prayed to a god
and only said: if you are not here, lord, who can I tell that to?
and now I lie here, boy, on your chest and you feel me shaking, which means
that I’m getting lighter – how did you break me open so fast?
with your black hair, a flock of ravens, a dark rocky landscape,
a cutting wind – like the blackness you emerged from and in which I
slowly begin to see you – eye to eye, eye to eye to eye, I didn’t know
that that meant carrying someone, constantly falling towards each other –
 
I didn’t know that love is not blind not because it doesn’t see
but because it’s found something that’s more than visible,
because it saw that the darkness at the centre of each gaze is
darkness returning to you so that you can forgive it again,
time after time after time, constantly falling, the way it falls silent
in the middle of each word, yes, but there is something in the middle of that
silence that cuts that word, like a thinner line a thin line,
in two, and gives each of us half
so that I can take my word and put it in my gaze
in the hope that over the course of this falling both halves
will touch again, seeming to be able to say something to each other
that doesn’t come from anywhere else, so that we will always have been here
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