Uit: The History of Bees (Vertaald door Diane Oatley)
“Their eyes were on us, on the trees. Curious, wrinkling their noses a bit, cocking their heads. As if they were here for the first time, even though all of them had grown up in the district and didn’t know of any kind of nature other than the endless rows of fruit trees, against the shadow of the overgrown forest in the south. A short girl looked at me for a long time, with big, slightly close-set eyes. She blinked a few times, then sniffed loudly. She held a skinny boy by the hand. He yawned loudly and unabashedly, didn’t lift his free hand to his mouth, wasn’t even aware that his face stretched open into a gaping hole. He wasn’t yawning as an expression of boredom; he was too young for that. It was the shortage of food that caused his fatigue. A tall, frail girl held a little boy by the hand. He was breathing heavily through a stuffed-up nose, with his mouth open, missing both front teeth. The tall girl pulled him behind her while she turned her face towards the sun, squinted and wrinkled her nose, but kept her head in the same position, as if to get some color, or perhaps glean strength. They arrived every spring, the new children. But were they usually so small? Were they younger this time? No. They were eight. As they always were. Finished with their schooling. Or … well, they learned numbers and some characters, but beyond that school was only a kind of regulated storage system. Storage and preparation for life out here. Exercises in sitting quietly for a long time. Sit still. Completely still, that’s right. And exercises to develop fine motor skills. They wove carpets from the age of three. Their small fingers were ideally suited for work with complex patterns. Just as they were perfect for the work out here. The children passed us, turned their faces to the front, towards other trees. Then they walked on, towards another field. The boy without teeth stumbled a bit, but the tall girl held his hand tightly, so he didn’t fall. The parents were not here, but they took care of one another. The children disappeared down along the tire rut, drowned between the trees. “Where are they going?” a woman from my crew asked. “I don’t know:’ another replied. “Probably towards forty-nine or fifty’: a third said. “Nobody has started there yet:’ My stomach twisted into a knot.”
De Amerikaanse dichteres Anya Silver werd geboren op 22 december 1968 in Media, Pennsylvania.
Uit het ziekenhuis ontslagen
Terwijl de deuren achter me dicht glijden,
de wereld weer tot leven komt –
besta ik weer, kom tot mezelf,
zonlicht niet gedimd door donkere ruiten,
de hitte op mijn armen de adem van de aarde.
De wind zet me rechtop
als een hinde die haar pasgeboren kalfje schoonlikt.
Achter mijn rug, dagen gemeten aan de hand van vitale functies,
mijn geopende mond en mijn gestrekte arm,
de nachtelijke kreten van een man, tot kindermaat
verdord door kanker en het gerinkel
van lege infusen die door gangen tolden.
Voor mij het leven – mysterieus, gewoon –
pijn op afstand houdend met zijn gespierde vleugels.
Als ik op de stoeprand stap, duikt een oranje mot
in de mand met rozen
die de laatste tijd op mijn ziekenhuistafel stond,
en de bloembladen wijken voor zijn aanhoudende
duwtje, openen zich veelvoudig en als van goud.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen