For a drowned girl

Drowning is breathing,
Drowning is drinking with the whole body,
with tongue and lungs. Forehead, lymph channels,
the open eyes, everything finally drinks to fulfillment.
To drown is to slowly drift downwards,
like a descending particle of dust in a ray of light,
never reaching the velvet floor,
but keep on floating just above it;
your hair waves softly in the under streams:
as far above the 6.30 ferry steams,
the time you were expected home.
To be drowned is to resurface after three days and three nights,
due to diligent putrefying agents:
they do their best to lift the body through the pale green light
until at last its face
breaks through the mirror; the sun greets it immediately:
"where have you been these past few days?"
To drown is to receive God in his house
while life is just such wretched existence.
To be drowned is being allowed to see inside stones
and to know how the horse was made and the moonfish,
and to finally have the courage to meet
those one destroyed in this life.
Drowning is being forgotten and forgiven,
it is overcoming old and painful nostalgia
and reaching the ultimate goal one searched for so long,
on the shore whence one also took off, that warm old beach.
Drowning is a pleasant untying;
goodbye sweet dead girl, you may now smile in peace.

J.B. Charles (Dutch poet 1910-1983)
translated into English by L. Roovers

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2008 Selected Poetry
The Poets Garret
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