A clock strikes on the other side. It’s late.
No need to count, you know the chimes by heart.
The years go by, you think, just as well without.
This far there was a road. Then the road ran out:
the Dordtse Kil, the Rhine, the Nile, the Lethe.
The setting is dissolved in waiting time.
You’ve made the ferry, it may be the last.
Once it left at midnight on the dot. Now
it sails into the blue. Is there water there?
All will be real, soon, when the bollard creaks,
among the basalt rocks the frail reeds line the shore.
You hope for a safe passage. That, no more.
From On Dry Land (Op het droge, 1988)
By Ad Zuiderent
Translated by Paul Vincent
First published in The Low Countries, 1996