Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Marjolijn van Heemstra

THE MIDDLE

I know the story from bud to crown, from the first symbiosis
to the erect chest, the animals and their echo in us, stored
in membranes, pieces of hide and heat around the heart. I know the story
from ape to man, I know how I stretched into homo sapiens, restless

and perpendicular to the Earth. But something in me never stands upright, slides
indifferently away from warmth, despite torches and flints I smell
of damp, in my breast no urge but the throb of a sponge.
I have become two directions, forwards and backwards
tumbled in time,

inside of me, with prehistoric calm, a snail hauls itself
back to the beginning and a human towards the end; neither
is in sight, just this momentary middle.

HET MIDDEN

HET MIDDEN

Ik ken het verhaal van kiem tot kroon, van de eerste symbiose
tot de rechtopstaande borst, de dieren en hun echo in ons, bewaard
in vliezen, stukken vacht en hitte rond het hart. Ik ken het verhaal
van aap tot mens, ik weet hoe ik mij tot homo sapiens strekte, rusteloos 

en haaks op de aarde. Maar iets in mij staat nooit rechtop, glijdt
onverschillig weg van warmte, ondanks fakkels en vuurstenen ruik ik
naar vocht, in mijn borst geen drift maar de klop van een spons.
Ik ben twee kanten op geworden, naar voren en naar achter
getuimeld in de tijd,

in mij sleept een slak zich prehistorisch kalm
terug naar het begin en een mens zich naar het einde; geen van beide
is in zicht, alleen dit tijdelijke midden.

Close

THE MIDDLE

I know the story from bud to crown, from the first symbiosis
to the erect chest, the animals and their echo in us, stored
in membranes, pieces of hide and heat around the heart. I know the story
from ape to man, I know how I stretched into homo sapiens, restless

and perpendicular to the Earth. But something in me never stands upright, slides
indifferently away from warmth, despite torches and flints I smell
of damp, in my breast no urge but the throb of a sponge.
I have become two directions, forwards and backwards
tumbled in time,

inside of me, with prehistoric calm, a snail hauls itself
back to the beginning and a human towards the end; neither
is in sight, just this momentary middle.

THE MIDDLE

I know the story from bud to crown, from the first symbiosis
to the erect chest, the animals and their echo in us, stored
in membranes, pieces of hide and heat around the heart. I know the story
from ape to man, I know how I stretched into homo sapiens, restless

and perpendicular to the Earth. But something in me never stands upright, slides
indifferently away from warmth, despite torches and flints I smell
of damp, in my breast no urge but the throb of a sponge.
I have become two directions, forwards and backwards
tumbled in time,

inside of me, with prehistoric calm, a snail hauls itself
back to the beginning and a human towards the end; neither
is in sight, just this momentary middle.

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