Uit: The Two Hotel Francforts
“Thanks,” I said. Seeing that the task was more than we could manage, several of the male patrons at the café, as well as several of the waiters, got down on their knees with us. Like commandos, we scrambled to gather up the cards, chasing down the ones that the breeze had batted out of reach, while Julia watched with a sort of paralyzed detachment. Of course, I understood— perhaps I alone understood— how much was at stake. For if four or five of the cards went missing, it would be unfortunate. But if just one went missing, it would be a catastrophe. And miraculously, all of the cards were found— at which all of the men who had participated in the operation burst into spontaneous applause.
“Thanks,” I said to Edward— again.
“Why are you thanking me?” he said. “I’m the one who stepped on your glasses.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“No, it was the pigeons,” Iris Freleng said, from two tables away.
“Some fool must have tried to feed them,” Edward said. “They’re ruthless, these birds. Piranhas of the air, the locals call them.”
“They might as well. The word’s Portuguese.”
“Are they damaged?” Iris asked.
“Not much,” Julia said. “A few of the corners are bent.”
“I meant your husband’s glasses. Even so, I’m glad to hear it. I’ve never seen cards that small.”
“They’re special solitaire cards,” I said. “My wife is something of a connoisseur where solitaire is concerned.”
“I am not a connoisseur,” Julia said.
“The versions she plays require two decks, which is why the cards have to be so small. Otherwise you’d need a dining table to spread them out on.”
“How interesting,” Iris said. “Myself, I’ve never gone in for cards.”
“I am not a connoisseur,” Julia repeated, fitting the cards back into their box, on the alligator- skin surface of which the word patience was picked out in gold.
“Of course, we’ll pay to have them replaced,” Edward said. “The glasses.”
vraag me om te vertellen hoe het voelt
om je het gezicht van je moeder te herinneren
veranderd in water onder de witte woorden
van de man in de schoenenwinkel. vraag me,
hoewel ze het beter vertelt dan ik,
niet vanwege haar charme
maar omdat het nooit is gebeurd
geen pesterige verkoper vol branie,
geen woede, geen schaamte, niets ervan
is ooit gebeurd.
Ik herinner me alleen dat ik ze voor jou heb gekocht
je eerste volwassen schoenen
lacht ze. vraag me
hoe het voelt.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen