Thursday 10 March 2011

Poem by the Dutch writer Albert Hagenaars, from his three-language collection 'Palawija'


Behind glass I see you then,
as a copy in hardened synthetic resin
of the skull fragments compressed to stone:

Meganthropus Paleojavanicus.

Gone for good are the hair-covered skin,
the flat breasts with their long nipples
and the short hoarse sounds of the tongue

in which you warned, made love, died,

but not the strings of notional DNA
still spiralling in the woman with whom hand
in hand I stand before the dark showcase

and reconstruct your heavy features.

Your luxuriant world with predecessors
of elephant, buffalo and crocodile
is imperceptibly slowly buried

beneath layer upon layer of sediment.

After hundreds of thousands of years of waiting
you lift up your once so strong hands
of what is now caked grit.

reach out towards me

and want my mouth to breathe
life into her. I incorporate you
when our descendants survive

according to a theory far from proven yet.

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