High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Ann Bellemans: Crater
Friday Verses

Ann Bellemans: Crater

This week's Friday Verses are written by Ann Bellemans. We translated Krater (Crater). This poem first appeared in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Ann Bellemans (Brussels, b. 1958) was active for twenty years as a television reporter and documentary maker. She worked freelance for the Flemish television channels VRT and VTM. Ann writes articles for De Standaard Weekblad, is working on a poetry collection and on a scenario about a drug dealer she befriends.


I remember the
Scraping of the cutlery
And the chewing of my table companion
Words did not come spontaneously

I didn’t know what to say
Or how I was to live

I talked to the dog by the babbling brook
And wondered if he felt free.

I saw the captured wildlife in the zoo
The empty look in their eyes
their vacant running up and down
I couldn’t stand it
I was ashamed of their suffering

The people around me laughed
And licked their ice creams

With their long tongues

(Dutch version below the photo)


Ik herinner mij het
Gekras van het bestek
En het kauwen van mijn tafelgenoot
Woorden boden zich niet spontaan aan

Ik wist niet wat ik moest zeggen
En ook niet hoe ik moest leven

Ik praatte met de hond aan het kabbelend beekje
En vroeg mij af of hij zich vrij voelde.

Ik zag in de zoo de gevangen dieren
De lege blik in hun ogen
hun wezenloze heen en weer geloop
kon ik niet verdragen
Ik schaamde mij voor hun lijden

De mensen om mij heen lachten
En likten aan hun ijsjes

Met hun lange tong

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