At the poetry festival Transpoesie in Brussels, in September 2019, Elmar Kuiper was this year’s Frisian poet who was invited to read from his work. During his stay he wrote a prose poem about one of his nightly walks through the city.
All the same
At the end of a literary evening in Brussels, I drank a Kaapse Pracht with a South African, whom I, miraculously, was able to understand. “A Frisian has a cruel tongue” I proclaimed and ducked out, staggered across a broken-up street and heard a load of sharp s’s and the hard g of an Arab shouting at me even at this late hour. I looked nervously around me and hurriedly crossed the intersection. Near the Holiday Inn our eyes met each other. She sat bolt upright, on a piece of bubble wrap, in the doorway of a restaurant and had wavy hair and dirty cheeks. Wrapped up in a drab blanket she looked me up and down. The white of her eyes became a puddle in which I almost drowned. “Help me, sir,” she whispered, soft as a summer rain, and I reached, generously minded, into my pocket and folded my wallet open, yet not even a penny rolled out of it. “These are hard times for poets as well,” I snapped, as if it was nothing, but she didn’t say anything and just shook her head.
© Elmar Kuiper Translation: Trevor M. Scarse