Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Rita Dove

Orders of the day

Dagorders

Na de gebulderde wekroep de koude druppelwasbeurt
en het opmaken van onze bedden; nadat de taken waren uitgedeeld
en we brood kruimelden in de zure kool, om vervolgens

te worden geteld in de rij, je nummer beduidde je lot;
was er een ogenblik – vóór het rennen naar de klas,
uitkijkposten onder de zolderkast, niet meer dan

een zweem, een helder, wreed herinneren –
dat we weer onszelf werden,
met spuuglok en vlecht, blozend van gepikte appels

of weggestopt snoep. We hurkten niet in de regen
nadat we geteld waren en rilden niet
onder dakspanten om vast te houden aan

onze dromen van de buitenwereld.
We waren nog maar kinderen. En dat
korte vergeten, die woeste bedwelming

die we stil trachtten te houden in ons hoofd
als in een boordevolle bokaal
tot de dag loodrecht aanrukte, zijn orders blafte –

was het meest zalige of schokkende moment
dat we op aarde zouden doormaken:
op deze harde, stuurse aarde

die we niet langer herkenden maar waar we
onze ziel maar al te snel aan zouden toevertrouwen
als ten slotte onze lichamen verkruimelden

hun laatste rustplaats in.

Orders of the day

After the bellowed call to rise, the cold dribble wash-up
before making our cots; after chores were dealt out
as we crumbled bread into sour cabbage, then fell
     
in line to be totted up, numbers matched to fates;
there was a moment – before the scramble to class,
lookouts posted below the attic hutch, no more than

a flicker, a bright, brutal remembering –
when we became ourselves again,
cowlicked and plaited, flush with pocketed apples

or tucked-away sweets.  We were not
hunched in rain being counted or shivering
under rafters, trying to keep pace with

our dreams of the outside world.     
We were merely children.  And that    
brief forgetting, that raging stupor 

we tried to hold quiet in our heads
as if in a brimming goblet
until the day lurched upright, barking its orders –

was either the most blissful or shattering instant
we would live through on earth:
this hard and sullen earth

we no longer recognized but would,
sooner than later, commit our souls to
when at last our bodies crumbled

into their final resting place.

Close

Orders of the day

After the bellowed call to rise, the cold dribble wash-up
before making our cots; after chores were dealt out
as we crumbled bread into sour cabbage, then fell
     
in line to be totted up, numbers matched to fates;
there was a moment – before the scramble to class,
lookouts posted below the attic hutch, no more than

a flicker, a bright, brutal remembering –
when we became ourselves again,
cowlicked and plaited, flush with pocketed apples

or tucked-away sweets.  We were not
hunched in rain being counted or shivering
under rafters, trying to keep pace with

our dreams of the outside world.     
We were merely children.  And that    
brief forgetting, that raging stupor 

we tried to hold quiet in our heads
as if in a brimming goblet
until the day lurched upright, barking its orders –

was either the most blissful or shattering instant
we would live through on earth:
this hard and sullen earth

we no longer recognized but would,
sooner than later, commit our souls to
when at last our bodies crumbled

into their final resting place.

Orders of the day

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