Uit: Arlington Park
“All night the rain fell on Arlington Park.
The clouds came from the west: clouds like dark cathedrals, clouds like machines, clouds like black blossoms flowering in the arid starlit sky. They came over the English countryside, sunk in its muddled sleep. They came over the low, populous hills where scatterings of lights throbbed in the darkness. At midnight they reached the city, valiantly glittering in its shallow provincial basin. Unseen, they grew like a second city overhead, thickening, expanding, throwing up their savage monuments, their towers, their monstrous, unpeopled palaces of cloud.
In Arlington Park, people were sleeping. Here and there the houses showed an orange square of light. Cars crept along the deserted roads. A cat leapt from a wall, pouring itself down into the shadows. Silently the clouds filled the sky. The wind picked up. It faintly stirred the branches of the trees, and in the dark, empty park the swings moved back and forth a little. A handful of dried leaves shuffled on the pavement. Down in the city there were still people on the streets, but in Arlington Park they were in their beds, already surrendered to tomorrow. There was no one to see the rain coming, except a couple hurrying down the silent streets on their way back from an evening out.
“I don’t like the look of that,” said the man, peering up. “That’s rain.”
The woman gave an exasperated little laugh.
“You’re the expert on everything tonight, aren’t you?” she said.
They let themselves into their house. The orange light showed for an instant in their doorway and was extinguished again.
On Arlington Rise, where the streetlamps made a tunnel of hard light and the road began its descent down into the city, the wind lifted stray pieces of litter and whirled them around. Further down, the black sky sagged over the darkened shop-fronts. An irascible gust made the signs rattle against the windows. From here the city could be seen, spread out below in the half-splendour of night. A brown haze stood above it. In its heaped centre, cranes and office blocks and the tiny floodlit spires of the cathedral stood out in the dark against the haze. Red and yellow lights moved in little repeating patterns as though they were the lights of an intricate mechanism. All around it, where the suburbs extended to the north and the east, brilliant fields of light undulated over the blackened landscape.
In the centre of the city the pubs and restaurants were closed, but people were queuing outside the nightclubs. When the rain started to fall, a few of the girls shrieked and held their handbags over their heads. The boys laughed uneasily. They hunched their shoulders and put their hands in their pockets. The drops fell from the fathomless darkness and came glittering into the orange light. They fell on the awning of the Luna nightclub and twisted in the beams of the streetlamps. They fell into the melancholy, stained fountain in the square, where men in T-shirts sat with cans of lager and hooded boys made graceful circles in the dark on their skateboards. There were people milling in doorways, shrieking girls in stilettos, boys with sculpted hair, middle-aged men furtively carrying things in plastic bags. A woman in a tight raincoat tick-tacked hurriedly along the pavement, talking into her mobile phone.”
Oh, maar het is vies!
– dit kleine tankstation,
met olie doordrenkt, met olie doorweekt
tot een verontrustende, totaal
Wees voorzichtig met die lucifer!
Vader draagt een vies,
met olie doordrenkt apenpak
dat hem in de oksels snijdt,
en een aantal snelle en brutale
en smerige zonen helpen hem
(het is een familietankstation),
allemaal echt door en door vuil.
Wonen ze in het station?
Het heeft een betonnen veranda
achter de pompen, en daarop
een partij vervormd en vet-
op de rieten bank
een vuile hond, heel behaaglijk.
Enkele stripboeken bieden
de enige kleurtint-
van een bepaalde kleur. Ze liggen
op een groot donker kleedje,
gedrapeerd over een krukje
(onderdeel van de set), naast
een grote ruige begonia.
Waarom die vreemde plant?
Waarom het krukje?
Waarom, oh waarom, het kleedje?
(Geborduurd in madeliefjessteek
met margrieten, denk ik,
en zwaar van grijs haakwerk.)
Iemand heeft het kleedje geborduurd.
Iemand geeft de plant water,
of oliet hem misschien. Iemand
schikt de rijen blikken
zodat ze zachtjes zeggen:
tegen uiterst gespannen auto’s.
Iemand houdt van ons allemaal.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen