Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Willem Jan Otten

BEFORE THE LEAP

With August drawing to a close,
the bath attendant locked the cubicles,
biked whistling off into September.

So no one was around when I
stepped out onto the board. I was
blindfolded like a deserter.

These are the steps up dread tread dread.
On the high board of the Outdoor Baths
one flirts with the frisson of fear.

The sun was just as low as I and was
about to slowly sink into the ground.
Who had transported me aloft?

Oh dear love. And I knew: tomorrow
I will wake but no escape for me is
possible. From the highdive-dream

one wakes up with the highdive-dream.
I knew: it seems I’m going to go ahead.
The last small moves. I stand precisely

at the height required to feel afraid.
This is the right intended distance to
the loop-looming water, baptismal-soft.

It’s always lain in wait for me –
so why abruptly do I fear the pool
as if it rapidly has drained away?

What if I dived like that – I do, I do –
I were to fall and nothing catch me?

OP DE HOGE

OP DE HOGE

Liep augustus op zijn einde,
sloot de badmeester de hokjes af,
fietste neuriënd september in.

Niemand was er dan ook bij
dat ik de plank betrad. Ik was
geblinddoekt als een deserteur.

Dit zijn de stappen bang bang bang.
In het Bosbad op de hoge
zweet men het peentje bangverlang.

De zon stond even laag als ik en stond
op punt van zakken in de grond.
Wie mij naar boven had gebracht?

Ach mijn lief. En ik wist: morgen
word ik wakker maar ontkomen
kan ik niet. Uit de schoonspringdroom

ontwaakt men met de schoonspringdroom.
Ik wist: ik maak ze nu dan dus.
De aanstalten. Ik sta precies

zo hoog als nodig om bevreesd te zijn.
Dit is de toegedachte afstand tot
het lussenwevend water doopselzacht.

Het heeft me altijd opgewacht –
maar waarom vrees ik dan ineens het bad
alsof het heel snel leeggelopen is?

Dat zo ik sprong – ik wil, ik wil –
ik vallen zou en niets mij ving?
Close

BEFORE THE LEAP

With August drawing to a close,
the bath attendant locked the cubicles,
biked whistling off into September.

So no one was around when I
stepped out onto the board. I was
blindfolded like a deserter.

These are the steps up dread tread dread.
On the high board of the Outdoor Baths
one flirts with the frisson of fear.

The sun was just as low as I and was
about to slowly sink into the ground.
Who had transported me aloft?

Oh dear love. And I knew: tomorrow
I will wake but no escape for me is
possible. From the highdive-dream

one wakes up with the highdive-dream.
I knew: it seems I’m going to go ahead.
The last small moves. I stand precisely

at the height required to feel afraid.
This is the right intended distance to
the loop-looming water, baptismal-soft.

It’s always lain in wait for me –
so why abruptly do I fear the pool
as if it rapidly has drained away?

What if I dived like that – I do, I do –
I were to fall and nothing catch me?

BEFORE THE LEAP

With August drawing to a close,
the bath attendant locked the cubicles,
biked whistling off into September.

So no one was around when I
stepped out onto the board. I was
blindfolded like a deserter.

These are the steps up dread tread dread.
On the high board of the Outdoor Baths
one flirts with the frisson of fear.

The sun was just as low as I and was
about to slowly sink into the ground.
Who had transported me aloft?

Oh dear love. And I knew: tomorrow
I will wake but no escape for me is
possible. From the highdive-dream

one wakes up with the highdive-dream.
I knew: it seems I’m going to go ahead.
The last small moves. I stand precisely

at the height required to feel afraid.
This is the right intended distance to
the loop-looming water, baptismal-soft.

It’s always lain in wait for me –
so why abruptly do I fear the pool
as if it rapidly has drained away?

What if I dived like that – I do, I do –
I were to fall and nothing catch me?
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère