Sunday, 29 March 2020

ALS: 'Koenegracht'


The new age has slid into the station like a soundless train. I don’t go anywhere, I don’t receive anyone. But so as to eat and drink, I drive to Zutphen, twelve kilometres. In the large Albert Heijn car park I wait for my youngest son. He opens the boot and takes out two bags and the shopping list. I stay behind the steering wheel and read Early Snow. After twenty minutes my son is back again and puts the shopping in the back. I open the window, be crouches down at a distance of two metres, we talk as long as we feel like it. Perhaps we can keep this up or three or six years, perhaps this is the age of the corona virus. I don’t talk to my son about this, I talk with him about Early Snow, a collection of poems by Frank Koenegracht. He does read poetry, but I don’t know if he’s familiar with Frank Koenegracht. In a firm voice I read a poem aloud for him.


This evening I looked straight in the face
of a man who had his dog with him.
He told me everything about his dog.

I thought everyone really lives
and is always there, everyone has a dog
that lies against the door, but not me.

And the man with the dog that spoke to me
took another beer
and his dog stayed lying against the door.

And the man and the dog
and the dog simply didn’t get tired
of explaining to me that they existed,

were there, would definitely always be there.

After that I drive home, where I light the stove with wood that I chopped a week ago. Later in the day I speak with the shepherd, but now the roles are reversed. He sits in his car, I stand at a distance. He has moved his 180 sheep. He does this every three to four days. With him too I happen to talk about Koenegracht. I ask him if I perhaps should read something by this poet aloud where he talks about the October sky. The shepherd doesn’t think this is a good idea, he’s never understood the point of poetry. He would rather talk about the return of the wolf and the enthusiasm of conservationists to give these enemies of the sheep a free rein. ‘But you can’t turn the clock back, can you?’ The next time I’m waiting for my son’s shopping I’ll think about this. The fact that I have to wait for my shopping – is that too something that can be seen as putting back the clock?

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