Dolce far niente
Lazy Summer Day
Lazy summer days
Hard labour has gone
No serving, no stress
A chance to dance
A chance to sing
With everything you’ve got
A chance to laugh ‘til you’re sore
With those who are close
Stroll down the silvery ground
Sparkling in the sun
Away to join the bustle
Of the busy city life
Await the smiles
And happy faces
The fun’s about to begin
Alas the end of wait is near
So long stuck in that place
Locked with the false rays shining down
Behind the wall of coldness
Now out in the real
Soak it up
Soak everything in
Breakthrough the cloak
Open your heart
To that which is good
Let it all in
Don’t give up
No-one else has
Look at them
All jokes and japes
Why won’t it work?
Where’s the sunshine gone?
Why is it so dark?
It’s so quiet
Am I even alive?
Do you see me?
Yes you do
Like many times before
Watch me walk
Into the deathly cold
Take me once again
Cast my awful shadow
Blacken my soul
Work it in
Straight in my heart
Push it in more
Make me want to die
Then leave me cold on the floor
Now do you see me?
Do you see behind the mask?
Do you see the pain?
Do you see the tears inside me?
Do you see me?
Uit: On Father
“When a parent dies, for those left behind it can feel as though
half of the sky has fallen. My father was the sheltering sky, and
beneath his mild firmament no storm ever raged, no hard rain fell. His
nature was as gentle as the fallen world is brutish. All of our lives,
he was both a bastion against the trespasses of ill fate and the
predations of the inimical. Shortly after three o’clock on Monday
morning, June 19 2017, my father drew in his last breath and let go of
his hold on the world.
He lay abed in the palliative care ward of a hospital overlooking the western reaches of the Brisbane River. My brother Andrew was with him, holding his hand. Our mother, his forever love, was there, too. I was laid out on a couch in a tearoom, harboured somewhere in the grey lands between exhausted sleep and the edge of wakefulness. It was a liminal place, somewhere to wait and hide from consciousness.
I had turned Andrew out of the tearoom an hour earlier, after many hours of our final vigil at my father’s bed. He had been a long time dying. A cancer diagnosis more than five years ago; small skirmishes and border wars with lesser cancers in the years since. He’d fought the good fight, but in the end he succumbed to his nemesis, an aggressive, relentless angiosarcoma.
The cancer did not care that he was a good man, the best I’ve ever known. It did not care that he was loving and loved. It just took him, and with him went everything he ever was.
Everything he had done and seen and known. The notes he had plucked from a guitar as a younger man; silenced. The memory of running across a soccer pitch in a suburban club game, chasing a ball, while his children shouted from the sidelines; lost. Seven decades of memory and being in the world; vanished altogether like a dream.
“He’s gone,” my brother said.
He gently pushed open the door of the hospital tearoom, which was set aside each night for the family members of patients in the palliative care ward. A wedge of harsh white light from the fluorescents in the hall outside spilled through and my brother said quietly, “John, he’s gone.”
For a weird, contrary moment, it felt as though the foolish and precipitate act of opening that door had killed my father, as though we would still have him with us if only I’d been allowed to wait and hide in there forever.
But I suppose they’d have wanted the tearoom back eventually. Andrew and I returned to Dad’s room, ghosting past other rooms where other sons and daughters, or brothers and sisters, or wives or husbands or friends, or perhaps a solitary nurse, completed the final days or hours of their own muted and impassive death watch.
It was striking, in a way, that quietude. All around us, human lives guttered out like candles burned down to the very nub, often ending in horrific pain, and some in terror of the great darkness about to envelop them. But all was hushed and measured. Nobody raged against the dying of the light. Mum was holding Dad’s hand as we returned. She would hold on to him for a little while yet, talking to him, talking to herself.”
Die eerste nacht
Die eerste nacht, dat we door Londen reden!
’t Bestond dus echt! Oxford Street, Regent’s Street,
Marble Arch, Bayswater Road, Kensington Gardens:
’t leek allemaal één lang vertrouwd gebied.
En toch ook zo onwezenlijk, alsof elk
moment de wekker ratelend af kon lopen,
en alles: huizen, mensen, lichtjes, pubs,
zich in een Dordtse ochtend op zou lossen.
Hier had ik dertig jaar lang van gedroomd.
Hier had in gedachten al honderdduizenden
voetstappen liggen. En nu was ik er.
De taxi zwenkte Gloucester Road op: hier
zat ik Kees Buddingh’, zesenveertig jaar,
die morgen wakker zou worden op Devonshire Terrace.
Ik moest denken aan het antwoord dat Tal eens gaf toen men
hem vroeg of hij wel eens wat anders deed dan schaken
‘Ja’. ‘Wat dan?’ – ‘Denken aan schaken.’
Die bezetenheid heb ik nooit kunnen opbrengen, zelfs niet voor
Zeer vrij naar het Chinees
de zon komt op. de zon gaat onder.
langzaam telt de boer zijn kloten.
De vreemde geur van halletjes
De geur bij mensen thuis
die aan vroeger herinnert
Die geur herken ik altijd weer
Die hangt in hun jas, in alles
En allen hebben die mensen
het een of ander voorwerp
dat daar al eeuwen hangt
Een souvenir uit Nederlands-Indië
Een hoedenstand of kapstok
tafeltje om tas en handschoenen
op te leggen
flesje, flessenrek, de mat
noem maar op
Van alles wat het bekijken waard is
‘Mevrouw hebt u dit of dat
voor de zus of zo?’
‘Ik zal even wat halen
wacht jij maar in mijn halletje’
En dan ruik ik het
Ik hoor de hond
achter de glazen tochtdeur blaffen
ben bang dat hij de deur open krijgt
door het glas springt en mij bijt
omdat ik in hun halletje sta
Ze vertrouwen me toch mooi die mensen
Ik kan ‘m net zo goed
met een jas van de kapstok smeren
De galerij over spurten
en in zweet naar de uitgang zoeken
Ordinair gegil galmt van de gevels
Die mensen, termieten
in hun ingestorte betonhopen
ik ontvlucht ze
als een kleine miereneter
die fooitjes slurpt
en het geordend leven der slaapkolonie
in opperste opschuddding achterlaat