in a film the star system was side-stepped from a picnic spread
to disappear through a hand into the bloodstream
the hand’s skin a meticulous mosaic, also laid into the glass cupola
above the British Museum or the Louvre pyramid, inner promenades
filled with fruit flies circling round each other
now and then a glance about that falters

from the balustrade I look onto the crown of a gigantic fern
 that drops its leaves in layers
all piazzas moor off at Little Italy, all voices run ashore
on an Italian who keeps rambling, a drawing
of lines that shoot away, which touches all silent bits on the marble

in one of the halls a man is claiming that if he looks at a landscape long
enough, the molecular structure of an historic event will be revealed

outside, cranes stick out of half-finished pyramids
on the Thames a large wheel scoops up some more people wishing to stand on a circle
a picnic spread hangs motionless over the grass before it comes down
an effortlessly undulating landscape, which if our eyes were able to record
would last for days

a length which would extend until the antique ferns would stand along the margin
and the first fish crawled onto the land


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen
                                          Note: the man in ‘a man is claiming that if he looks at a landscape long enough,
                                          the molecular structure of an historic event will be revealed’ was created by the
                                          artist Patrick Keiller, in his exhibition ‘The Robinson Institute’ at Tate Britain, 2012


behind the cat that walks in of a morning, its night stretches out
a little like a painting reverberating while you look at it
whereas when you turn round the cut down landscape hangs on its shadow

from the doorstep the garden folds open crescendo
an analogue night portrait in which I’m trying to look back
how in dusty black a cat rustles through the streets
go back, two shrubs slide open
kerbstones clad in black are pulled up layer by layer
behind a wall a group of trams stands together in crescent moons

affectionate half-circles, in the way I’d also seen a row of golden ballpoint springs
affixed below each other in a glass case concerning the Zimbabwean monetary system

in the museum garden a blackbird spiralled clumsily after a butterfly
a rhododendron hedge leant maddingly  over the path
and just when I was neatly taking note of my classifications
the blackbird reappeared, not knowing what to do
a piece of cardboard between its beak

a coarse grain lay across the grass, it was growing night
the first trams curled up, in Hong Kong City on the corner
one by one the lights switched off
below a car that had just been parked
the final signs of movement ticked beneath the bonnet


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen



august was overripe and I had my misgivings
about a town in which so many people had briefly lived
among whom you and I had time and again attempted to explain
how two people could have become so unfamiliar

I saw a man cry from the heart in front of a deep metro shaft
it seemed as if he was inhaling the sound around him
the throng that passed, divided him into separate pieces

spectacle is enough of a name for a crowd that doesn’t want to stay at home
past crumpled-up napkins it finds its way

I was standing a few metres from the quay
looking for a helicopter I could hear but not see

the calm having forced itself round my neck
all ships being hauled by a rope
out of town


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen


walked into the water across a wobbly pier
stopped by the first fold
of a day stretched out
the movements are kept small
waves tap up, never do they wonder
turn round, go back

Sunday morning mother tender balance
surroundings heading out in front of every foot
a gull grumpily takes its place
a bush climbs out of a border
a crane reaches out its arm for a row of buildings

with one hand on my eye I paste a panorama
of water sections overlapping

a view is a distance turning round

behind my back cars descend into parking garages
bunches of flowers resist the wind
at my feet a crumpled carton of orange juice
the pier is moving, here


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen


one evening that leans up against the night I walk past a little wall
that I had never seen before, in a quarter I had never
but quite often been
a super-fast steeple chase of little walls in sequence

in between them a friend calls out that everything is unique
and he uses the word unparalleled
a word where I get tangled up in a group of concrete pillars
that support a railway line across the water and a golf course
great big v v v v v V    V      V’s from the distance
below which a herd of wet horses
leans against each other

low walls behind which you can breathe in
without your belly rising over the horizon
little walls taut between two gardens
that bounce back footballs, little walls behind which
the shots fired circle in a glass of water
a collection of holiday landscapes
where wisteria falls silent on the stucco

I say a glass of water is a picture behind which so many other glasses
travel in diluted versions to a vanishing point

in the estate agent’s shop window our house is repeatedly for sale


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen


she pulls the doors open inwards
from the doorstep her garden merges with a forest
the hedge around the parking’s full of holes
according to my aunt the horizon is manipulable

light falls through the leaves into her vegetable garden
a thin film keeps the skeleton together
porous, I learnt at camping Amphora
filled with garden sheds and plastic sky beside the railway line

an empty cuckoo’s clock lies in the bed of a tree
across my shoulder the streets had closed up
folded hands in my auntie’s lap

I have a great many birds in my garden
she calls out bent over the rhubarb
turn the stalks a quarter round, bend them inwards

a lattice of rivulets crawls up her white legs

in that bent-over pose
she stood, held up against the sunlight
rhubarb jam her tissue
rhubarb leaf her skin


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen


in the canal that from a house is led through the meadows
futuristic islands float past my legs, the way you know them by the name
‘new worlds’, the hovering clumps of earth that in this case
drag long threads of algae behind them

in Mongolia it all went quicker when they learnt to capture horses
at our place the film was almost finished after the invention of the steam engine
to end up in the present, at a cycling trip through the meadows
where the wind whistles on my bottle of Spa

I wear my summer frock

the edge of a bridge is coiling on the water
beside his bicycle a man is staring through binoculars
I consider I live in London and see how the buildings
dilute into wobbly islands on the Thames

with short blows a speedboat breaks free of the canal
a wagtail dives and rises before my wheel

my father would so love to get an ice-cream with his daughter in the cabrio
I don’t want to and wonder why you sometimes want to see things from a distance


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen


at my table in a square filled with tables
the sunshades run together, islands of spilt milk
pressed towards each other with a fingertip

the sun is sifted through the mesh

there is patient smoking
the body a baggy sweater in a bucket seat, puffing
as my dad calls it at the back of my mind
an accordion player shuffles between the tables
dredged through the varnish with a smile
via raised eyebrows to pupils
I draw question marks on the faces
if ah've said ah'm no here
then ah amna here
a man addresses his telephone

I call home to say I am in Venlo
and imagine how at the other end
the terrace, the salad with croutons and the tinny snippets
of accordion are put together

and whether space is being left
for the girl with her laces tied red-white-blue

for the little dog that looks round semi-exuberantly
while it kicks out the square from beneath it


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen
                                          Note: the italicized Scottish phrase kindly provided by poet W.N. Herbert


for the first time I could no longer look at the city
it was evening and the chill pressed shoulders to the ground
a man at a distance you could hardly comment on
ran his hands across my body

the people were forced to walk beside the pavement
their faces had the wind swept into them
the smell of trampled streets
and roasted chestnuts, exhaust fumes
heaped up in my nose

there is still a lot of love in the department stores

warm air blown upwards through grilles
a flapping coat, a door flying open

I am six and stand with a small patch sown into my swimsuit
dawdling by the edge
and think: warmth comes in fits and starts

I wonder what it is exactly that I’ve lost
why I keep looking over my shoulder
well camouflaged tic

something for which I could look to myself
because I thought: short skirts
those grab so very lightly


                                          Translated by Willem Groenewegen