Maudlin metaphors hang
from the bough like dead swans
here is a life that withdraws from the subject
at dinner slowly grows inwardly
and although my voice box reiterates a laryngeal
gets entangled in itself (that bird-black
and that your thoughts of a tree consist of this
a flock that cannot think of a better place)
won’t listen because everything recalls –
would you like white and points towards –
or red but my fear that it isn’t a flock at all
is greater than my dread of death
yes red please.
Game soup is served.
Can someone chase away these lonesome swans?
They cut figures of eight in the waterway.
Then I will let the night tree take root in me
and sway. Seek images for serene.
I spill birds on the tablecloth.
Translation from Dutch by Donald Gardner
Poem from A city rises (2017) Maria Barnas