Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Alfred Schaffer

Like a river, abandoned in all haste

Harmless water, jet-black, without current,
without origin still, without boats or swans,
no catch in our fine-meshed square net. With a
bird’s eye view, simply a twisting line from a to b with
left and right reassuring symbols, open terrain,
soon we would be asleep. But we didn’t sleep,
the word ‘river’ hung stubbornly between us,
held us on course, we had no choice, the first
landing-stages, suddenly the centre of a town, a bike
against a tree, a hand stretched out from the quay to
someone who seemed to have woken floundering from
a nightmare somewhere deep down on the map and no
matter how you screamed, no wave brought us nearer.

Als een rivier, in allerijl verlaten

Als een rivier, in allerijl verlaten

Onschadelijk water, gitzwart, zonder stroomsnelheid,
zonder oorsprong nog, zonder boten of zwanen,
geen vangst in ons fijnmazig kruisnet. In vogelvlucht
doodgewoon een kronkeling van a naar b met links
en rechts geruststellende symbolen, open terrein,
weldra zouden we slapen. Maar we sliepen niet,
het woord ‘rivier’ hing hardnekkig tussen ons in,
hield ons op koers, we hadden geen keuze, de eerste
aanlegplaatsen, plotseling een binnenstad, een fiets
tegen een boom, een uitgestoken hand vanaf de kade
naar iemand die spartelend uit een nachtmerrie leek
ontwaakt daar ergens diep beneden op de kaart en hoe
je ook schreeuwde, geen golfslag bracht ons nader.
Close

Like a river, abandoned in all haste

Harmless water, jet-black, without current,
without origin still, without boats or swans,
no catch in our fine-meshed square net. With a
bird’s eye view, simply a twisting line from a to b with
left and right reassuring symbols, open terrain,
soon we would be asleep. But we didn’t sleep,
the word ‘river’ hung stubbornly between us,
held us on course, we had no choice, the first
landing-stages, suddenly the centre of a town, a bike
against a tree, a hand stretched out from the quay to
someone who seemed to have woken floundering from
a nightmare somewhere deep down on the map and no
matter how you screamed, no wave brought us nearer.

Like a river, abandoned in all haste

Harmless water, jet-black, without current,
without origin still, without boats or swans,
no catch in our fine-meshed square net. With a
bird’s eye view, simply a twisting line from a to b with
left and right reassuring symbols, open terrain,
soon we would be asleep. But we didn’t sleep,
the word ‘river’ hung stubbornly between us,
held us on course, we had no choice, the first
landing-stages, suddenly the centre of a town, a bike
against a tree, a hand stretched out from the quay to
someone who seemed to have woken floundering from
a nightmare somewhere deep down on the map and no
matter how you screamed, no wave brought us nearer.
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