January 2021

Syds Wiersma was the RIXT poet of the  month January 2021. You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘Sense of Place’ – is published here below.

Photo: Geart Tigchelaar
Sense of Place
Nije Biltpôlen/Noarderleech

No morning person I slip on rough
frozen sludge. Frosted polder dikes.
A white death of bulrush washed ashore.
Rushes sharp brown like wrecking tools.

I follow the gully, got no other choice, even
as a kid I walked on banks of winding ditches,
stand-ins when short of alternative channels.
A strip of island over there, here lies extramural

land seized beneath a sky that plays its
trump card of innocence slick blue, lets 
the hours climb glassily, thaw into a marsh
of finisterre. Timidly the stream crawls on.

Back in Nijesyl I stumble over humps and bumps,
snap up chirping sparrows, presumably to release
them like flatfish from coastal works later on.
Now no-nonsense my stride across the concrete.

The fields are already leaking water from pipes
on the Aldrij. The sun belly sleighing across
a thin sheet of ice. Moorhens pass over quickly:
hungry for forgotten blessed daily bread.

© Syds Wiersma
Trans. Trevor M. Scarse

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