Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Babs Gons

IF YOU HAVE NEVER WALKED IN HER SHOES

If you have never walked in her shoes
never cycled in the dark with your keys between your fingers
an extra-large hoodie over your dress
your high-heels exchanged for sneakers
so you can peddle home as fast as possible through the night

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know how exhausting it is to have eyes and ears
over your whole body
the hairs in your neck warning you
like alarm bells
when you need to make a quick getaway
always making a mental calculation,
what time you have to be somewhere,
when you have to leave
and if you’ll get there just in time
not to run in the dark
not via the park
avoiding groups
never losing sight of your drink

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know what it’s like to
avoid eye-contact, to pretend to be on the phone
to walk with more confidence
to keep a can of hairspray up your sleeve
to keep an eye via shop windows
on who’s following you
making a detour so your pursuer
doesn’t see where you live
only sometimes to face the greatest danger
in your own home
it’s often someone you know

if you have never stood in her shoes
don’t know the feeling of not being able to breathe
because someone suddenly locks a door
a taxi takes an unexpected turn

if you don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes
don’t know what it feels like
not to be listened to, not to be believed
not to be helped
to start a new day
the following morning
the fresh wounds, the damage
invisible
under your clothes, your skin
getting through the day
with a smile

then don’t ever tell her
what she should do
what she must wear
that she would have to give birth
and how she should behave

how to move
when to speak
how she her body
how she her life

but teach the world to love her
so much she no longer needs to look over her shoulder
so much she can dance when she wants
go where she wants
just let the world start goddammit
to love her with all their heart

ALS JE NOOIT IN HAAR SCHOENEN HEBT GELOPEN

ALS JE NOOIT IN HAAR SCHOENEN HEBT GELOPEN

als je nooit in haar schoenen hebt gelopen
nooit met je sleutels tussen je vingers door het donker hebt
     gefietst
een extra large hoodie over je jurk hebt aangetrokken
je hakken verwisseld voor sneakers
om zo hard mogelijk door de nacht naar huis te trappen

als je nooit in haar schoenen hebt gelopen
niet weet hoe uitputtend het is om ogen en oren
over je hele lichaam te dragen
de haren in je nek je als alarmbellen
te laten vertellen
wanneer je moet maken dat je wegkomt
je altijd in je hoofd aan het rekenen bent,
hoe laat je waar aankomt,
wanneer je moet vertrekken
en of je dan nog net op tijd
niet hardlopen in het donker
niet via het park
groepjes vermijden
nooit je drankje uit het oog verliezen

als je nooit in haar schoenen hebt gelopen
niet weet hoe het is om
oogcontact te vermijden, te doen alsof je belt
stoerder te gaan lopen
een busje haarlak in je mouw te dragen
via winkelruiten in de gaten te houden
wie er achter je loopt
een omweg te maken zodat je achtervolger
niet ziet waar je woont
om dan soms het grootste gevaar
in je eigen huis te treffen
het zijn toch vaak bekenden

als je nooit in haar schoenen hebt gestaan
het gevoel niet kent geen adem meer te kunnen halen
omdat iemand opeens een deur in het slot draait
de taxi onverwachts afslaat

als je niet weet hoe het is om in haar schoenen te staan
niet weet hoe het voelt
niet gehoord, niet geloofd
niet geholpen te worden
om de volgende ochtend
gewoon weer een nieuwe dag te beginnen
de verse wonden, de schade
onzichtbaar
onder je kleding, je huid
vanachter een glimlach
de dag zien door te komen

vertel dan nooit
wat zij moet doen
wat ze moet dragen
dat ze moet baren 
en hoe zich te gedragen

hoe te bewegen
wanneer te spreken
hoe ze haar lichaam
hoe ze haar leven

maar leer de wereld van haar houden
zo hard dat ze nooit meer achterom hoeft te kijken
zo hard dat ze mag dansen wanneer ze wil
gaan waar ze wil
laat de wereld nu verdomme eens beginnen
hartgrondig van haar te houden
Close

IF YOU HAVE NEVER WALKED IN HER SHOES

If you have never walked in her shoes
never cycled in the dark with your keys between your fingers
an extra-large hoodie over your dress
your high-heels exchanged for sneakers
so you can peddle home as fast as possible through the night

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know how exhausting it is to have eyes and ears
over your whole body
the hairs in your neck warning you
like alarm bells
when you need to make a quick getaway
always making a mental calculation,
what time you have to be somewhere,
when you have to leave
and if you’ll get there just in time
not to run in the dark
not via the park
avoiding groups
never losing sight of your drink

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know what it’s like to
avoid eye-contact, to pretend to be on the phone
to walk with more confidence
to keep a can of hairspray up your sleeve
to keep an eye via shop windows
on who’s following you
making a detour so your pursuer
doesn’t see where you live
only sometimes to face the greatest danger
in your own home
it’s often someone you know

if you have never stood in her shoes
don’t know the feeling of not being able to breathe
because someone suddenly locks a door
a taxi takes an unexpected turn

if you don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes
don’t know what it feels like
not to be listened to, not to be believed
not to be helped
to start a new day
the following morning
the fresh wounds, the damage
invisible
under your clothes, your skin
getting through the day
with a smile

then don’t ever tell her
what she should do
what she must wear
that she would have to give birth
and how she should behave

how to move
when to speak
how she her body
how she her life

but teach the world to love her
so much she no longer needs to look over her shoulder
so much she can dance when she wants
go where she wants
just let the world start goddammit
to love her with all their heart

IF YOU HAVE NEVER WALKED IN HER SHOES

If you have never walked in her shoes
never cycled in the dark with your keys between your fingers
an extra-large hoodie over your dress
your high-heels exchanged for sneakers
so you can peddle home as fast as possible through the night

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know how exhausting it is to have eyes and ears
over your whole body
the hairs in your neck warning you
like alarm bells
when you need to make a quick getaway
always making a mental calculation,
what time you have to be somewhere,
when you have to leave
and if you’ll get there just in time
not to run in the dark
not via the park
avoiding groups
never losing sight of your drink

if you have never walked in her shoes
don’t know what it’s like to
avoid eye-contact, to pretend to be on the phone
to walk with more confidence
to keep a can of hairspray up your sleeve
to keep an eye via shop windows
on who’s following you
making a detour so your pursuer
doesn’t see where you live
only sometimes to face the greatest danger
in your own home
it’s often someone you know

if you have never stood in her shoes
don’t know the feeling of not being able to breathe
because someone suddenly locks a door
a taxi takes an unexpected turn

if you don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes
don’t know what it feels like
not to be listened to, not to be believed
not to be helped
to start a new day
the following morning
the fresh wounds, the damage
invisible
under your clothes, your skin
getting through the day
with a smile

then don’t ever tell her
what she should do
what she must wear
that she would have to give birth
and how she should behave

how to move
when to speak
how she her body
how she her life

but teach the world to love her
so much she no longer needs to look over her shoulder
so much she can dance when she wants
go where she wants
just let the world start goddammit
to love her with all their heart
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