Secrets of a poet

Supervlaai (shopping center kanaleneiland)

I seat on a table next to the window. On the right, a group of men talks lively. They are not speaking in Dutch. On the left, a man, reading the newspaper. In a quick look, I see that it’s a group of four men. On the left, next to the door, two women talk, facing each other. A nice image: I see the face of the woman that has her back turned to me, reflected on the mirror: her expressions, while talking to the other one, I see her blonde hair touching the shoulders and the blue eyes. Two men at the entrance to the shopping, on the inside, they talk and gesticulate. One has a hat made of wool and a rosy face, brown hair and eys and dark skin. Behind the counter, a blonde, middle aged woman, handling the cakes, with care, like combing their hair. The man with the newspaper goes outside. He is bald, wears glasses and a grey suit. A girl enters, points at the cakes and changes a few words with the blond woman. Someone seats at the table from the bald man who left. I turn my head to see who is it. It’s him that looks at me, intrigued. Two women are now discussing about cakes with the blond lady. From the right, a male voice asking me in Dutch something from which I can only understand the word “writing”, “Creative writing” my rehearsed answer. I wrote poetry for 40 years, ah yes? yes, and then I stopped, you can’t make any money from that. Humhum, I work as a translator now, ah! (this time I show some interest), which languages?, English and German to Dutch. Do you come from Italy? No, Portugal, do you live here?, no, in Rotterdam, I’m visiting some friends. What do you write about? About Kanaleneiland. I live here for 7 years and I like it, never had problems, they say it’s the worst neighbourhood from the Netherlands, but I like it. So do I. I lived a few years in Scotland, didn’t like it. Edinburgh. Never felt at home. I found a home here, it’s not the same as my own, but another one. If I could speak the language, I would feel more at home. I don’t remember the answer anymore, he talks now about his plans. Writing a novel, translating a Spanish famous book into Dutch, become a publisher, plans and more plans. Studying again. Philosophy. But 1500euros it’s expensive. Do you miss Edinburgh? No, never felt at home there. But I’m counting on going there soon to spend a few months, I have a couple friends there that I don’t see for 20 years, but we keep in touch. They don’t like the British. When the Dutch team won the British team on football, I was watching the game in a bar, they started telling each other that I was Dutch, everyone greeting me and paying me beers hugging me, that was great! Talks with a smile.  I don’t know how, but the conversation went on and on, words are like cherries, one pushes another. A refined man. Big, with round glasses. Lonely. He tells me about his past, the grants he won in the 70’s, as if the everyday would have distracted him, year after year, in his vulnerable sensibility, and he stopped doing what he really liked. He tells me about Slauerhoff, he knows Pessoa, and a lot more about writing.

He says that poetry is a sad thing. That he asks himself if poetry always has to be a sad thing. That he is researching about “poetry moods”, and that his friends tell him that his poetry is sad although he doesn’t consider himself a sad person. Maybe he is and doesn’t know. I travel for a minute and come back to my seat to listen. But I’m 56 years old. I don’t think I will have the time to do all that. A friend has recently lost her garndmother, she was 101 years old – I’m sure you’ll have time for all that and even more. I lost my mothe rlast year. She was 98 years old. I thought she would reach 100, but she didn’t want. I came here to be close to her, I was her favorite. You have brothers? We’re many, a catholic family, like you. I’m not a catholic, although I come from a catholic country. He orders a coffee and asks me if I’d like a coffee too. I’m sorry, I have to go to Alberthein. I also have things to do, but will take it easy today. Another 5 minutes of talk. Coffee arrives. It seems that he knows the blonde lady, I feel a certain familiarity, (at this time, both the blond lady and the group of men have an hear on our conversation and sneak through the corner of the eye) maybe he comes here everyday. I say goodbye, he shakes my hand. Have a good day. The same for you. I take my time shopping, when I pass by on my way back he is not there anymore.

Public secrets from the window
(later on, back to Auriolaan 98)

Two kids arrive and start playing fottball, both wearing sneakers and training suit, one wers a leather coat and the other a grey vest. They hit a grey car, that is parked just next to them. Eventually they hit the antenna for the radio. On the right, a group of women is carrying pieces of wood to a car parked on the walking board. An Audi A6. A girl with braidings runs oput of the bulding to jump into a metal tube and turn her head up side down, her braidings touching the floor. A man on a balcony in front observing the women caryring the pieces of wood, as he smokes a cigarrette. The girl runs again to do the same figure, like a sloth. The man goes back inside. The woman locks the door of the car. The kids continue playing football as they talk continuously.