Saturday, 28 July 2012

Nijhoff sonnet - 'Impasse' - in English translation


We stood there in the kitchen, she and I.
I’d had the thought for days: ask her today.
Ashamed to ask, I waited for the stray
unguarded moment, though, to make my try.

But seeing her now busy at her tasks
and realising that I had the chance
she’d answer without thinking in advance,
What would you have me write about? I asked.

Just then the whistling kettle starts to blow,
concealing her in rushing steam that soars
through slanting window up to purple rain.

And she replies, while drop by drop she pours
the boiling water on the coffee grains
and the aroma spreads out: I don’t know.

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