Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Alfred Schaffer

You haven’t said a word yet

What has to change here? There is no middle course, the escalator works,
the coffee is hot, the trains leave on the dot, the traffic jams unblocked.
What’s past would fit with ease into a backpack. There is no middle course,
gradually we have got used to it, no real surprises left

not on the face of it, though there is no end to our nocturnal operations.
The tourist who spots no one in the hall of the hotel, the neighbour
washing his car in his dressing gown, his wife who comes humming,
the bride-to-be repeating her ‘I do’ while in the toilet.

Fortunately these interruptions are only brief, tomorrow is another
day. My accent just needs getting used to sure – you see me standing
here, with bloody nose, fresh from the frontline? Everything for you my love,
the proofs are for the taking. Put in a good word for me if you dare.

Je hebt nog geen woord gezegd

Je hebt nog geen woord gezegd

Wat moet hier veranderen? Er is geen tussenweg, de roltrap werkt,
de koffie is heet, de treinen vertrekken stipt op tijd, de file is opgelost.
Wat voorbij is past met gemak in een rugzak. Er is geen tussenweg,
we zijn het gewend ondertussen, de verrassing is er nu wel af zo

op het eerste oog, maar aan onze nachtelijke operaties komt geen eind.
De toerist die niemand aantreft in de hal van het hotel, de buurman
die zijn auto staat te wassen in zijn kamerjas, zijn vrouw die hummend
klaarkomt, de aanstaande bruid die haar jawoord repeteert op het toilet.

Deze onderbrekingen zijn gelukkig slechts van korte duur, morgen is
er weer een dag. Mijn accent is even wennen zeker – zie je me staan,
met bloedneus, vers van het front? Alles voor jou mijn lief, de bewijzen
liggen voor het oprapen. Doe een goed woordje voor me als je durft.
Close

You haven’t said a word yet

What has to change here? There is no middle course, the escalator works,
the coffee is hot, the trains leave on the dot, the traffic jams unblocked.
What’s past would fit with ease into a backpack. There is no middle course,
gradually we have got used to it, no real surprises left

not on the face of it, though there is no end to our nocturnal operations.
The tourist who spots no one in the hall of the hotel, the neighbour
washing his car in his dressing gown, his wife who comes humming,
the bride-to-be repeating her ‘I do’ while in the toilet.

Fortunately these interruptions are only brief, tomorrow is another
day. My accent just needs getting used to sure – you see me standing
here, with bloody nose, fresh from the frontline? Everything for you my love,
the proofs are for the taking. Put in a good word for me if you dare.

You haven’t said a word yet

What has to change here? There is no middle course, the escalator works,
the coffee is hot, the trains leave on the dot, the traffic jams unblocked.
What’s past would fit with ease into a backpack. There is no middle course,
gradually we have got used to it, no real surprises left

not on the face of it, though there is no end to our nocturnal operations.
The tourist who spots no one in the hall of the hotel, the neighbour
washing his car in his dressing gown, his wife who comes humming,
the bride-to-be repeating her ‘I do’ while in the toilet.

Fortunately these interruptions are only brief, tomorrow is another
day. My accent just needs getting used to sure – you see me standing
here, with bloody nose, fresh from the frontline? Everything for you my love,
the proofs are for the taking. Put in a good word for me if you dare.
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