All the same

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.

Photo: Elmar Kuiper

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

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