High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Jan Geerts: Last Letters
Friday Verses

Jan Geerts: Last Letters

This week's Friday Verses are written by Jan Geerts. We translated Laatste brieven (Last Letters). This poem first appeared in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Jan Geerts (Hoogstraten, b. 1972) grew up in the countryside, studied Germanic Language and Literature and became an urban immigrant in Borgerhout. He was a creative writing teacher for Youth and Poetry and the Writers’ Academy and is now a reviewer for Poëziekrant. He has published five collections of poetry with Uitgeverij P, including work featured in various anthologies and magazines. This autumn a new collection, Wij zijn zo veel (There Are So Many of Us), will appear.

Last Letters

~ dedicated to my father ~

if you listen hard you can hear the sea, but
it’s not the sea, it’s the sheet
going softly up-and-down

I keep watch, the patience
of the sea is endless
and beneath it you

I catch you breathing
I say father and do you remember
a few days ago you still consisted

of words whose voice
I’m already forgetting
the room is so quiet

that it seems to stop
only the sea remains
till it too disappears

(Dutch version below the photo)

Laatste brieven

~ opgedragen aan mijn vader ~

als je goed luistert hoor je de zee, maar
het is niet de zee, het is het laken
dat zacht op-en-neer gaat

ik houd de wacht, het geduld
van de zee is eindeloos
en daaronder jij

ik betrap je op adem
zeg vader en weet je nog
enkele dagen geleden bestond je nog

uit woorden waarvan ik de stem
al aan het kwijtraken ben
de kamer is zo stil

dat ze lijkt op te houden
enkel de zee blijft
tot ook die verdwijnt

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