Winter –

Winter

Under the wolf moon of a single night
the canal shows barely a skin of ice,
but still the boasting, blathering
words go gliding over barflies’ tables:

the icy sweep of wide black lakes,
oh, man, one faster than the other
in the old attempt to keep ahead
of Time’s infernal bird-trap.

*

Thinking of my parents and Auden, with
snowstorms in the streets of New York
and shades, whinnying as they circle
the hoary paddocks up past Burgwerd,

I’m pissed in a pub near the Potmarge
and staring at the snow-splashed windows
that stare straight back at me like eyes
from a blind, white no-man’s land.

*

There was a fire that sparked from a father’s blades,
when he, faster than the light below Woudsend
(Under our breath we called, ‘Hey,
don’t you need to look where you’re going?’)

flew into a hole in the ice and just as breakneck,
almost galloping, came shooting back out
into the light again north of Sloten. Oh, man,
thousands wouldn’t, but I do, dark night.

*

What is white if not blind, says the girl
with the easel on her back who wants
to paint beyond the dyke as nothing less
than time that’s snow because we, a vanishing, we,

a little night music floating under the ice,
like language that slowly goes mute
in all the things that can’t be said, say,
snow’s face beyond the dyke.

*

As winter skates into a hole in the ice
while the light, that ousted queen, loathsome
and foul, brushes the Emma’s wet quays,
I stop by a cat that’s lying, half-dead,

on the Gijsbert’s clinkers, and think
– for nothing now can ever come to
any good? – of the future of my language,
my Frisian, in winter’s dark bird-trap.

Translation: David Colmer

.

WINTER

Amperoan in flueske yn ’e feart of
ûnder de wolvemoanne fan ’e nacht
streekje, swetsend en swearend,
oan winter syn stamtafel de wurden

de grutte barte fan de swarte marren oer,
o, man, de iene hurder noch as de oare
yn in âld besykjen en wês earst Tiid
syn ferrifeljende fûgelknip yn ’t foar.

*

Tinkend oan myn âlden en Auden, mei
snieblizzards yn de stegen fan New York
en skynsels, wrinzgjend en al dwalend
troch wytberipe hôven boppe Burchwert,

sit ik op yn in kafee by de Potmarge
en folgje, heal besopen, de flokjende
finsters dy’t as eagen út in wyt en blyn
Nimmenslân wei my op te nimmen stean.

*

Der wie in fjoer dat in heit fan de redens
spatte, doe’t er, hurder as it ljocht ûnder
Wâldsein (we sein’ noch tsjin elkoar:
‘Hee do, even kollum en burdaard, no.’)

in wek yn fleach en ergens boppe Sleat
mei deselde rotgong, fjouwerjend hast,
wer foar ’t ljocht skeat, o, fertel my wat,
fertel my wat, fadertje, fadertje, neare nacht.

*

Wat is wyt mear as blyn, seit it famke dat
mei de ezel op ’e rêch de romte achter
de dyk oars net skilderje wol as de tiid
dy’t snie is, want wy, in ferdwinen, wy,

in lytse, ûnder it iis fuortstrikende nacht-
muzyk, sa’t de taal te ferstomjen komt,
stadichwei yn dat wat him net sizze lit,
sis, it gesicht fan snie achter de dyk.

*

Dêr’t winter himsels in wek ynrydt wylst
it ljocht, foarstinne ôf, smoarch en goar
oer de wiete kaaien fan de Emma strykt,
dêr hâld ik ho by in kat dy’t, healdea,

oer de klinkerts yn de Gysbert leit en
tink – for nothing now can ever come to
any good? – oan de takomst fan myn taal,
myn Frysk yn winter syn faaie fûgelknip.