September 2023

Henk Nijp was the RIXT poet of the month in September. You can read his original Frisian poems from that month here. The translation of one of them – ‘on the edge’ – is published here.

Photo: Henk Nijp
on the edge

once more we dance the slowfox of silent grief,
words that we’ve never said out loud
mirror the space between our steps,
old patterns like grains in a floor,
by now we’ve learned the ins and outs,
know the score by heart

days slip through the mesh of time
vanish in the sinkhole of memories,
all that remains just the relics
of a life on the edge of existence
- maybe we pushed ourselves too hard,
were we marooned by fate

do we find comfort in ourselves, or the other,
along the straight and narrow or via the roundabout of lies,
is it purely cowardice or just impotence,
for a watchdog will only taste air and never its prey
living as he does between chain and basket,
his howls greeting the moon every night 

when eventually the lights are turned on
and the string and rhythm sections stop,
we shiver in the early-morning mist,
our arms drop, steps become strides,
I no longer lead; you’re twirling not as graciously

in the distance a cockerel crows three times

© Henk Nijp
translation: Trevor Scarse

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