Three Poems by Lies Van Gasse

Translated by Annmarie Sauer





This is about sorrow,
but I say it differently,


like a fast, many footed wind,
cold over the lanes,
like a hasty, senseless thought.


This is about pain, but it sounds like
the rustling of leaves.


Weight by which one bows,
the hands taut to the face. 


Through the falling of the sun
unexpectedly I was rearranged.
Through my every noon gapes a vale.


In your sleep I lay slender twigs next to your face,
found pebbles, cockles, moss.


Your limbs lay like soft coral on the bank,
your letters I reread like a dragnet


unless, if I lay a reef
between my two hands


and plane, but then black,
until lines of kohl come out.


This isn’t about much more.


White cries the walker,
a thrush shakes its feathers.
The bird bows and prays.






I wanted to leave behind almost everything:


pencil, pen and inner ear,
light that always got smaller,
unsubstantial vibrating points


and the slithering of a snake,
the trembling of the smallest deer,
the birth of an aardvark,
the smart, slender lori, I wanted


to leave behind almost everything,
but not the pencil offering me lines,
the room where I lost the light.


In blindness I learned to live,
black as a sky gasping for breath,


dark filling itself with scraps,
mossy twigs beating around them. 


I made a tunnel in the night.


Something is fluttering under the brainpan:
a fly skin, strongly veined,
first as a bird, but then


like an animal, hand-winged,
smooth nose, a horse shoe


under the roof, banished
to the inside of the night.


A man stuck out its eyes.
Yet one heard how even bleeding
it could fly between the wires,


and I, I kick like a blind one
my pencil against window panes,


cry without light,
stagger clumsily.  


Almost everything I want to leave behind,
but not the night.







A glistering, an unceasing trembling of quills,
skinny princesses, radiant with sallow skin,
glazed as a dish for an apple. The swan


which as apartheid tears among the white,
the canals wild and cheery
and slow, fast and rhythmically repeating 
that motif hammering in my head –


What languages does she speak, how 
many diseases in her anthracite?


Sleeping, something that hides under a hand,
under a wing; the bonsai stands in front
next to a stripe of moss in the picture, hangs
anyway almost straight at the camera; question marks,
white and demanding, bobbing on the mirror.


Silence as an absence of light –


On the grass rests a layer of foam,
in the trees the sun sleeps like an orange.


It is still warm
and it thinks that all the bleeding has stopped.


More than this hangs through or body
a strip of light; letters we don’t form,
but they steer us like a lamp.


a drop of water falls from the rock,
something leaks within the warm fluid
of the womb: a swamp in which
frogs, toads, crickets.


A ghost of fog and lacking ringing of bells;
almost mechanically the sun rises;
a wrestling, and then the night –