Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Sasja Janssen

"Virgula, when the hours fall through the ceiling"

Virgula,

when the hours fall through the ceiling in the late front room
with a view over the courtyard with its hundreds of knee-high plants
and flat orchids, they scare me

when the hours fall through the ceiling and you take cover beneath my writing table
and the mirror expires in shards on my wooden floor 

when the hours fall through the ceiling, I leave you behind, go through the hounded
grasses and my breast spied in an oil-shined pond 

she floats next to a lily named Victoria, that sometimes blooms white
and smells of pineapple, I catch my breast with a butterfly net
like the lily a small child with her leaf, that sometimes blooms pink 

surrounded by trees with writerly names like the handkerchief tree,
bitternut hickory, date-plum, but now I have regret on my hand
where it shrivels from ray to sweetbread 

that’s the cancer? I ask her, but my heart stings and the next night I make
the hours kneel but my breast is gone, perhaps returned to the crime scene

the way you always do with me, where the night smells of apple vinegar
where they keep the curtains open in front of a building with a flickering eye
at the top, where a woman without organs screams 

and on the toilet a man clutches his head, wails for an angel.
and I am closed in by a curtain as though I have to take a bed bath
but the nurses wheel in a mirror for me 

in which I never see my breast again and in the night I limp to the pond
and glide into it but I keep finding my body on that toilet with angel’s hair 

until I have told Victoria a few more times about her victories and defeats,
the plants observe me from their lowly position, until I see the lily unfolding a child 

and again nothing said that can’t be said without a breast
in a bygone front room without light, oh Virgula.

"Virgula, als de uren door het plafond vallen"

Virgula,

als de uren door het plafond vallen in de late voorkamer
met uitzicht op de binnentuin met honderden kniehoge planten
en platte judashanden, ze jagen me angst aan

als de uren door het plafond vallen en jij je verschanst onder mijn schrijftafel
en de spiegel sterft in scherven op mijn houten vloer

als de uren door het plafond vallen, ik jou achterlaat, door de opgejaagde
grassen ga en mijn borst bespied in een olieblinkende vijver

ze dobbert naast een lelie die Victoria heet, die bloeit soms wit
en geurt naar ananas, ik vang mijn borst met een vlindernet
zoals de lelie een klein kind met haar blad, die bloeit soms roze

omringd door bomen met schriftelijke namen als zakdoekjesboom,
bitternoot, godenpeer, maar ik heb nu spijt op mijn hand,
waar ze verschrompelt van rog tot zwezerik

dat is de kanker, vraag ik haar, mijn hart steekt en de nacht erop laat ik
de uren knielen maar mijn borst is weg, misschien naar de plaats delict

zoals jij altijd doet met mij, waar de nacht ruikt naar appelazijn
waar ze de gordijnen openhouden voor een gebouw met flakkerend oog
aan zijn top, waar een vrouw zonder organen schreeuwt

en op het toilet houdt een man zijn hoofd vast, het jammert om een engel.
en ik ben ingesloten door een gordijn alsof ik me in bed moet douchen
maar de zusters rijden me een spiegel voor

waarin ik mijn borst nooit meer zie en ik ziekwandel in de nacht naar de vijver
waarin ik glijd maar vind steeds mijn lichaam terug op dat toilet met engelenhaar

tot ik Victoria nog een paar keer vertel over haar overwinningen en nederlagen,
de planten kijken me vanuit hun laagte aan, tot ik zie hoe de lelie een kind uitvouwt

en weer niks gezegd wat niet gezegd kon worden zonder borst
in een voorbije voorkamer zonder licht, o Virgula.

Close

"Virgula, when the hours fall through the ceiling"

Virgula,

when the hours fall through the ceiling in the late front room
with a view over the courtyard with its hundreds of knee-high plants
and flat orchids, they scare me

when the hours fall through the ceiling and you take cover beneath my writing table
and the mirror expires in shards on my wooden floor 

when the hours fall through the ceiling, I leave you behind, go through the hounded
grasses and my breast spied in an oil-shined pond 

she floats next to a lily named Victoria, that sometimes blooms white
and smells of pineapple, I catch my breast with a butterfly net
like the lily a small child with her leaf, that sometimes blooms pink 

surrounded by trees with writerly names like the handkerchief tree,
bitternut hickory, date-plum, but now I have regret on my hand
where it shrivels from ray to sweetbread 

that’s the cancer? I ask her, but my heart stings and the next night I make
the hours kneel but my breast is gone, perhaps returned to the crime scene

the way you always do with me, where the night smells of apple vinegar
where they keep the curtains open in front of a building with a flickering eye
at the top, where a woman without organs screams 

and on the toilet a man clutches his head, wails for an angel.
and I am closed in by a curtain as though I have to take a bed bath
but the nurses wheel in a mirror for me 

in which I never see my breast again and in the night I limp to the pond
and glide into it but I keep finding my body on that toilet with angel’s hair 

until I have told Victoria a few more times about her victories and defeats,
the plants observe me from their lowly position, until I see the lily unfolding a child 

and again nothing said that can’t be said without a breast
in a bygone front room without light, oh Virgula.

"Virgula, when the hours fall through the ceiling"

Virgula,

when the hours fall through the ceiling in the late front room
with a view over the courtyard with its hundreds of knee-high plants
and flat orchids, they scare me

when the hours fall through the ceiling and you take cover beneath my writing table
and the mirror expires in shards on my wooden floor 

when the hours fall through the ceiling, I leave you behind, go through the hounded
grasses and my breast spied in an oil-shined pond 

she floats next to a lily named Victoria, that sometimes blooms white
and smells of pineapple, I catch my breast with a butterfly net
like the lily a small child with her leaf, that sometimes blooms pink 

surrounded by trees with writerly names like the handkerchief tree,
bitternut hickory, date-plum, but now I have regret on my hand
where it shrivels from ray to sweetbread 

that’s the cancer? I ask her, but my heart stings and the next night I make
the hours kneel but my breast is gone, perhaps returned to the crime scene

the way you always do with me, where the night smells of apple vinegar
where they keep the curtains open in front of a building with a flickering eye
at the top, where a woman without organs screams 

and on the toilet a man clutches his head, wails for an angel.
and I am closed in by a curtain as though I have to take a bed bath
but the nurses wheel in a mirror for me 

in which I never see my breast again and in the night I limp to the pond
and glide into it but I keep finding my body on that toilet with angel’s hair 

until I have told Victoria a few more times about her victories and defeats,
the plants observe me from their lowly position, until I see the lily unfolding a child 

and again nothing said that can’t be said without a breast
in a bygone front room without light, oh Virgula.

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