Friday, 19 October 2012

Hugo Claus - Still Now


Still now, on the gallows today, in her mouth a rag,
she who wakes with swollen lips, her eyes still closed,
she was something I knew and since have lost and how,
but how did I lose her, how does a drunk dog bark?

Still now, her face as the moon and her body as the moon
young, bitter young, with those breasts and buttocks and those ribs
Earlier you had love’s darts, you truly felt them there,
they scourged, you thought, that bright full moon of hers.

Still now her bitten nails, her bruised nipples,
her smooth buttocks between which she smiles her vertical smile
and she who reviled metaphysics said: ‘Oh, sweetie,
in each cell of your sperm sits God and his mother.’

Still now the stripes scratches stains tattoos,
all wounds of love beneath her flimsy frock,
and I fear that this will remain, this nasty underhand
scratching and clawing for her undersize no man’s land.

Still now, completely still she lay excessively alone,
crosswise abandoned and with paralysed palate,
and I, just as motionless in my cell, I heard them,
the tinkling chains round her left ankle.

Still now I know how tired and limp after languid lovemaking
she leant her head forwards almost shyly in the morning,
a duck that slid across the lake and sipped at the water
and then dipped down to me and bit and then never again.

Still now I bind her jet-black hair in horny
crests and spears and spines and worship her as
totem and cross in my house that clumsily and hastily
changes into a temple for Love, the furtive goddess.

Still now all those rooms and nights and creamily nude
and all that sleep after and before and the scent of heather.
How she snored when I asked if she now was happy
and how she caressed the pillow plump next to me.

Still now her limbs, all four busy, done in,
and her newly washed hair over her warm cheeks,
then she grasped my neck with her ankles, giggling executioner,
beheaded she offered me her cool glistening wound.

Still now I hoist a flag and raise my arms in the air
and shout ‘Comrade’. But she was the one who surrendered.
For on the battlefield I heard her stammeringly rave
with the accent of her mother, obscene syllables.

Still now, when I am on the point of switching over
to that other life, she leads me as through black water
and peers and leers at me through her dangerous lashes
and laughs when dripping-wet I clamber up to her golden verge.

Still now her whole body is crimson and glistening with sweat
and her openings slippery with baby oil.
Yet what I know of her remains a curious gesture,
something without echo, full of bitterness, chance and regret.

Still now I forget the gods and their ministers,
it is she who shatters, sentences and forgets me,
she of all seasons but above all of winter
for she becomes more beautiful and cold as I continue dying.

Still now among all women there is not one like her,
not one whose savage mouth has amazed me so much.
My besotted soul would tell of her if it could
but my soul was ravaged by all her belongings.

Still now how she trembled with tiredness and whispered:
‘Why are you doing this? I’ll never let you go again, my king.’
There was no chillier prince than I and recklessly
I let her see how the King wept from his one eye.

Still now when I dare think of my lost bride
I quiver on my legs when I think of who’s now plucking her,
my wandering oleander of a bride who time and time
again pulls up the weed that is me from her pleasure garden.

Still now while the bees of death swarm around me
I taste the honey of her belly and hear the humming
of her coming and stare at the moist pink
leaves of her mobile flesh-eating flower.

Still now our broad bed that smells of her and her armpits,
our pale bed shat upon by the birds of the world.
At the bird market she said: ‘I want that one, that wild one there,
that keeps on tapping with its beak against her tit.’

Still now, how she resisted and refused my mouth,
and only when I floored her with my nails in her breast
lay null and void and then, while I slept drunk on her abundance,
poked me up again like a hearth long since thought extinguished.

Still now her mobile breast that lay there in my hands
and her lips thickened by my tooth-bites
and her bitten nails and bruised nipples,
and how she squinted in the angry morning light.

Still now I imagine that she in the narrow space of time
between me and the polar night has been the stars,
the grass, the cockroaches, the fruits and the worms
and that I accepted this and that it still delights me.

Still now, how to describe her hair, with what can I compare her?
Until I’m in my grave I’ll arrange her and tint
and spoil her and breathlessly blow her back to life
with my tiresome moaning, my nerve-racking whining.

Still now her eyes with the mascara and the eye-shadow
and the scarlet lobes of her ears pierced.
‘I’ve a fever,’ she says, ‘ I can’t any more, I’ll kill
you, your fingers, no one else ever, nowhere, never.’

Still now she’ll be nineteen, although she drinks quite a lot,
and too many tears have traced furrows over her
cheeks, war-paint and camouflage,
the mould and the rigorous frost of her life without me.

Still now if I should find her again like a fairy tale
of the moon after rain and lick once more her toes,
on my legs once more with my heart of stone I’m afraid a
weird weak song might be reawoken like one by Cole Porter.

Still now, she more than the water in her curious body
a salt lake on which a duck would drift and stick
and I was that duck with a dick - hear me quack! - and she
being a lake rocked me on the waves or pretended to.

Still now if I were to see her again with that shortsighted look
of hers, heavier in the hips and broader in the beam,
I would, I think, embrace her, drink once more of her,
no drone would be busier more joyful suppler.

Still now while I sit entangled and entwined in her
the Destroyer is at work scorching humanity.
Respectable humans have lost their way
as after a fight without weapons and without winners.

Still now riveted in her fetters and with the bloody nose
of lovers I say, filled with her blossoming spring:
‘Death, torture the earth no longer, do not wait, dear death,
until I have finally come, but do as she and strike now!’

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