Elizabeth Bishop, In wûnder as moarnsmiel

 
In wûnder as moarnsmiel

Om seis oere sieten wy te wachtsjen op kofje,
op kofje en op de goeddwaande krom
dy’t optsjinne wurde soe fan in beskaat balkon
– as keningen fan wolear, of as in wûnder.
It wie noch tsjuster. Ien foet fan de sinne
fûn hâld op in lange rimpeling yn de rivier.

De earste pont dy deis wie krekt oarekant de rivier.
Wy hopen, kâld as it wie, dat de kofje
hiel gleon wêze soe – wy snapten dat de sinne
ús net waarmje koe – en dat de krom
in bôle elk wêze soe, bebûtere, troch in wûnder.
Om sân oere ferskynde der in man op it balkon.

Hy stie in skoftke allinne op it balkon
en seach oer ús hollen hinne richting de rivier.
In betsjinner joech him it tabehear foar in wûnder,
besteande út in inkeld kopke kofje
en ien broadsje, en dat makke er ta krom,
mei de holle sis mar yn ’e wolken – by de sinne.

Wie it de man yn ’e plasse slein, troch de sinne?
Wat besocht er te dwaan, dêr heech op syn balkon!
Elke man ûntfong ien nochal hurde krom,
dy’t guon smeulsk fuorttikten yn de rivier,
en, yn in kopke, ien drip fan de kofje.
Guon fan ús talmen, wachtsjend op it wûnder.

Ik kin fertelle wat ik doe seach; it wie gjin wûnder.
Der stie in prachtige filla yn de sinne
en troch de doarren kaam de geur fan gleone kofje.
Oan de foarkant in barok, wyt plastere balkon
oanboud troch fûgels dy’t nestelje lâns de rivier
– ik seach it mei ien each flak by de krom –

en geanderijen en moarmeren keamers. Myn krom
myn wenstee, foar my wrochte troch in wûnder,
ieu nei ieu, troch ynsekten, fûgels en de rivier
dy’t de stien bewurket. En ik sit yn de sinne,
alle dagen om moarnsitenstiid, op myn balkon
mei de fuotten omheech, en drink liters kofje.

Wy beslikken de krom en ferslokten de kofje.
In raam oarekant de rivier fong de sinne
as wie it wûnder geande, op it ferkearde balkon.

 

A Miracle for Breakfast

At six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony,
—like kings of old, or like a miracle.
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river.
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee
would be very hot, seeing that the sun
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle.
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony
looking over our heads toward the river.
A servant handed him the makings of a miracle,
consisting of one lone cup of coffee
and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb,
his head, so to speak, in the clouds—along with the sun.

Was the man crazy? What under the sun
was he trying to do, up there on his balcony!
Each man received one rather hard crumb,
which some flicked scornfully into the river,
and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee.
Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle.

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle.
A beautiful villa stood in the sun
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee.
In front, a baroque white plaster balcony
added by birds, who nest along the river,
—I saw it with one eye close to the crumb—

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb
my mansion, made for me by a miracle,
through ages, by insects, birds, and the river
working the stone. Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee.
A window across the river caught the sun
as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.

 

Ut North & South, 1946.

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