This canal is narrower than I thought
and deeper. Ducks are standing on the ice.
The winter was severe, a late spring ought
to be expected. Trees are drab and bare
and fallen leaves still cover yellow grass.
Yet on the dark-gray ramparts where we go,
after those many years of life abroad,
we see a field of flowers, white as snow.
Balm for the eyes, they help renew the bond
between the first spring flowers and time passing.
Were they here all the years we never came?
At home they wait for us, this year in vain.
What’s Utrecht still, Janskerkhof and Dom tower,
stands small and strange. Your hand alone feels true.
I know again what I forgot too soon:
that sunless street beyond the big white house.
From An Unfinished Life (Het onvoltooid bestaan, 1990)
By Georgine Sanders
Translated by Georgine Sanders