Poem

At that instant
stasis settles
with Swiss precision
among your small
hours of masturbation and
other delights, for the rock’s song weaves stones
in the mouth of those who come,
splitting beauty and unexpectedly
dispersing, like bales of linen,
the future

and so off we went
into the mist tapping our teeth
in wordless unknowing,
our tongue a fish stranded on a shingle
beach: tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis –
while they simply take off the watch that
binds them to time, rinse their mouths, clear
their noses and shut their eyes so as to be completely
at one with laughter, sky and night, to
get rid of themselves – inadmissible

From The Sphinx’ Wrappings (De windsels van de sfinx, 1995)
By Henk van der Waal
Translated by Paul Vincent

First published in The Low Countries, 1997