And lived there

And lived there

The Dutch poetess Eva Gerlach is known for her poems that are included in Women writing in Duch and Turning Tides. This time I would take it upon me to translate one of her poems, called En leefde er (And lived there).

About the poet

Gerlach was born on April 9 1948. She also writes under the pseudonym Margaret Dijkstra. Her first book containing poetry was published in 1979. She won various awards for her work.

The poem

And lived there

And lived there

By Eva Gerlach


standing in the dressing room, notices
my undressed body
that it doesn’t function well,
it falls, ceases to exist


Sprawled on the floor between
wrinkles I see myself
sprawled on suspension loops
who die against the walls.


Suppose you were here now.
I would hold you straight away
till you, precise enough,
move death to depart


I whipe my wet skin dry
look past the mirrors above
to where they meet the ceiling,
get up and leave the shop

As you can imagine, this translation was impossible to do without letting go of the rhyme. Therefore it became a free verse. The Dutch original is below.

En leefde er

Door Eva Gerlach


staand in de paskamer merkt
mijn uitgeklede lichaam
dat het niet goed meer werkt,
het valt, het houdt op te staan.


Languit op de vloer tussen
kreukels zie ik mijzelf
languit aan ophanglussen
tegen de wanden sterven.


Stel dat je hier nu was.
Dadelijk hield ik je vast
tot je, precies, gedegen,
dood tot vertrek zou bewegen.


Ik veeg mijn natte vel droog,
kijk langs de spiegels omhoog
tot waar zij de zoldering raken,
sta op en verlaat de zaak.

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