Necropolis

translated from Dutch by Donna Spruijt-Metz

 

 

 

 

in memoriam Joost Zwagerman

 

Woken up in a hut on the Bay of Baratti under a blood moon

Barking dogs on hilltops ripped silence to pieces

held the dead in check, called me to vigilance

Chalk white light illuminated the sight of what was buried

I was the shadow that I saw and sought support in this dominion

Before me lay exposed: Necropolis, a landscape like a killing field

It came to confess but didn’t yield

It waited until my plowing thoughts bore fruit

I thought, the poet that I have laid in this earth

sleeps here at my feet in this light

To fashion a person from clay is a wish of the living

but I knew that to love life you needed

to cherish the taste of oxygen in your lungs 

It was a wakeful thought in the night

I brought a poet into the light, for whom did I hold a wake?

We both fought not to be, that night 

but god how the sun kept shining 

 

 

 

Read next: Joseph Levens, “Girl in Tow”

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Lucas Hirsch is the author of five collections of poetry and a novel. Hirsch has published poems in Dutch, Belgian, and American magazines and performed on stages in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the USA. His poetry has been translated into English, Polish, Finnish and German. He lives in Haarlem, the Netherlands, where he is currently working on his second novel and a sixth book of poetry

 

Donna Spruijt-Metz is Professor of Psychology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Her first career was as a classical flutist. She lived in the Netherlands for 22 years and is a translator of Dutch poetry. Her poetry and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in venues such as The Los Angeles Review, Copper Nickel, RHINO, The Cortland Review, and Poetry Northwest. Her chapbook, Slippery Surfaces was published in 2019. You can find her at www.donnasmetz.com