SELF-PORTRAIT

 

 

 

Iím standing with my body in a shop-window

and it says:

†††††††††††††† ĎI have lost my memory.í

 

 

Theyíve taken my brains out of my head Ė

††††††††††††† simply along one ear.

I can hear

††††††††††††† now better than I could before,

†††††††††††††††††††† but donít look anything up.

I donít need to look anything up.

All I have to do is stand in a shop-window.

 

 

Complete and utter strangers pass me by.

Everyone is a stranger to me Ė my children

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† their mother,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† my mother.

Yesterday,

†††††††††††††† or the day before,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I thought

†††††††††††††† that I had no children,

†††††††††††††† that they had no mother,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and no more did I.

 

 

Of what the visit refers to as death

I have a vague recollection.

 

 

After waking up from the profoundest sleep,

Iím standing here as a talking doll

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in a shop-window

and the first words that I say

are Ďbodyí,

††††††††††††††† Ďcontactí,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ďflashing lightsí,

in this order,

†††††††††††††††††† connected with nothing,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† devoid of any meaning.

 

 

Iím standing in a shop-window

as the known result

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of a hushed-up experiment.

I have been under the knife,

††††††††††††††††† with my knee in Siena,

††††††††††††††††† with my hip in Houston,

††††††††††††††††† with my arm in Amsterdam.

 

 

People have racked

†††††††††† their brains about my brains Ė

I have forgotten in what town

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† this took place.

 

 

No matter what,

††††††††††††††††††††††† behind ruler-straight scars

††††††††††††††††††††††† unsuccessful operations hide away.

Where

††††††††† scars have a serrated pattern

††††††††† healing is a slow process.

 

 

Of what the visit refers to as death

I have a vague recollection.

 

 

Iím standing in a shop-window with my head

that has been refashioned into a vegetable garden.

On my head

††††††††††††††††† strawberries now grow, then tomatoes,

††††††††††††††††† and always long-stalked leeks galore.

Iím just not with it any more.

 

 

I fiddle away at the wires

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in my head

and pull one of them,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† two,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† loose,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† over,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† out.

 

 

My arms are bound to the bars of the bed,

my feet to each other,

my rump round the bedstead.

 

 

 

I cannot escape

††††††††††††††††††††††† my punishment.

 

 

Of what the visit refers to as death

I have a vague recollection.

 

 

Iím standing in a shop-window

like a fleshed-out shadow

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of myself

that can scarcely stay standing

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† on fragile legs

and internally continually washes itself

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† with blood.

 

 

The forward steps will

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† come

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† perhaps

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a little

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† later.

 

 

 

Who is ever able

††††††††††††††††††††††† in whatever situation

to say out loud

††††††††††††††††††††† the towering words

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† now or never?

 

 

Of what the visit refers to as death

I have a vague recollection.

 

 

Iím standing in a shop-window

like a swimmer

††††††††††††††††††††† in swimming trunks

and am hoisted into the pool

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† sitting in a chair.

 

 

I cannot swim,

†††††††††††††††††††† but have to stand

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and tread.

With tardy trampling

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I score success,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† confirm my existence.

Iím getting there.

 

 

After practising with partners

Iím standing like an ensign-bearer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in a shop-window,

I give a cell call

††††††††††††††††††††††† with the remote control

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of the TV

and call up charladies,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† carers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and nurses.

Everyone is at my disposal.

 

 

Of what the visit refers to as death

I have a vague recollection

 

 

Iím standing with my body in a shop-window

and am surrounded

††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by limbs

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in plaster,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by chairs

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† that have wheels,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by empty heads

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† that are bursting with uselessness.

I cannot lose myself.

 

 

* * *

 

 

By circumstances I have Ė

††††††††††††††††††††††† completely time and again,

††††††††††††††††††††††† the state soso,

††††††††††††††††††††††† the present now Ė

††††††††††† against better judgment

††††††††††† and not of my own free will

been transformed into the weary schizophrenic

††††††††††† I probably now am.

 

 

Every time I get used to my new form Ė

††††††††††††††††††††††† with hooks and with eyes,

††††††††††††††††††††††† with screws and with plates

††††††††††††††††††††††† put back together

every time I more or less accept

that I am as I now am,

I rediscover

something different.

I no longer function

as I thought

I would function,

as if that was what I wanted,

††††† as if I had been chosen for this.

 

 

I will attempt to abandon

being

††††††† as I was.

 

 

I look full of doubt around me and find

perhaps something

in my shadow

about which I think:

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† this could come in handy.

 

 

I grow along unresisting for the most part

†††††††††† with what I will become.

 

 

 

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