Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Rita Dove

The sisters: swansong

De zusters: zwanenzang

We stierven een voor een,
allemaal ronder dan de spiegel
ons zag. We gingen hoffelijk heen,
rammelend met sleutelbossen en
cocktailsieraden, oefenend op
onze spookachtige toegiften.

Blij dat we van onze speldenkrullen
en gebeden af waren, eeltknobbels
brandend tussen
gesteven lakens – zongen we
onze treurliederen, prezen God
en gingen kalm

onze gang, werden beweend
in satijn en chrysanten,
whisky en taart, oude roddels
verdampend tot waarschuwende verhalen.
Maakt het uit wie er
het eerst ging? Corinna of Fay,

hartkwaal of slagader,
roekeloze scalpel of
nonchalant leven – de overblijvers
hielden de tel bij op de krimpende
rozenkrans: Suzanna, Kit.
Mary. Violet. Pearl.

We stierven allemaal aan onbeduidendheid.

The sisters: swansong

We died one by one,
each plumper than the mirror
saw us.  We exited obligingly,
rattling key chains and
cocktail jewelry, rehearsing
our ghostly encores.

Glad to be rid of pincurls
and prayers, bunions
burning between
ironed sheets – we sang
our laments, praised God
and went our way

quietly, were mourned
in satin and chrysanthemums,
whiskey and cake, old gossip
evaporating into cautionary tales.
Does it matter who went
first?  Corinna or Fay,

heartache or coronary,
a reckless scalpel or
a careless life – whoever was left
kept count on the dwindling
rosary: Suzanna, Kit.
Mary. Violet. Pearl.

We all died of insignificance.
Close

The sisters: swansong

We died one by one,
each plumper than the mirror
saw us.  We exited obligingly,
rattling key chains and
cocktail jewelry, rehearsing
our ghostly encores.

Glad to be rid of pincurls
and prayers, bunions
burning between
ironed sheets – we sang
our laments, praised God
and went our way

quietly, were mourned
in satin and chrysanthemums,
whiskey and cake, old gossip
evaporating into cautionary tales.
Does it matter who went
first?  Corinna or Fay,

heartache or coronary,
a reckless scalpel or
a careless life – whoever was left
kept count on the dwindling
rosary: Suzanna, Kit.
Mary. Violet. Pearl.

We all died of insignificance.

The sisters: swansong

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