Vondel Park, Amsterdam
Two toddlers in Vondel park
Two toddlers in Vondel park stand still
a small eternity of land hand-in-hand.
Drawn unblemished drifts the double swan:
cleft heart of throat and double throat,
sculpted wing with doubled wing against,
closed beak a hazy fake
with sky to one side and water to the other.
Satisfied by the unmoving image
he pulls – the little boy – abruptly at her hand
to continue on, dragging her into equilibrium
as she falteringly keeps looking back at the swan.
Past the trees the street noise rumbles.
Promoted from scooter to bicycle,
moped to motor car, he will declare
– the wheel his symbol – that he is member
of the collective Lilliput.
But underwater she sees moving webs.
Perhaps it is the last day for staring
and ignorant astonishment. What would
hé, becoming defenceless, be in thirty years?
A hardnosed savage, a refined sadist,
a pedantic Dutch mister?
And she a busy quick-witted missus
with an allure of well-that’s-just-the-way-it-is?
The swan remains bent over its reflection.
[Translated by Johann de Lange]