Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Here, Not There
And there, beyond the barbed wire, the view—
very charming landscape, as peaceful as then.
They would need for nothing, they would
be laid down in those green pastures,
be led to those peaceful waters,
there in the distance. They would.
I trace the windows of the barrack huts,
Only the black reflection of distance
in the panes, of a peaceful landscape,
The dead are so violently absent, as though
not only I, but they too
were standing here,
and the landscape were folding their invisible
arms around my shoulders.
We need for nothing, they are saying,
we have forgotten this world.
But these are no arms,
it is landscape.
The yellowed photos in the display cases,
Their faces ravaged by their skulls,
their black eyes,
what do they see, what do they see?
I look at them, but for what?
Their faces have come to belong
to the world, to the world
which remains silent.
So this is it, desertion, here is
the place where they took their leave,
far away in the mountains.
The camp has just been re-painted, in that gentle
grey-green, that gentle color
it is as new, as though nothing
has happened, as though
it has yet to be.
translated from the Dutch by James Brockway
The Giant Book of Poetry
edited by William H. Roetzheim