Elizabeth Bishop, Tankstasjon

 
Tankstasjon

Ach, wat is it smoarch!
– dat lytse tankstasjon,
oaljich, mei oalje fersêde
ta in ûntrêstigjende, alhiel
swarte trochskinendheid.
Pas op mei dy lúsjefers!

De heit hat in overal oan,
smoarch en oaljich
en te krap ûnder de earms,
en in steal kwike, dryste,
gleie soannen helpt him
(’t is in famyljetankstasjon),
elk troch ende troch smoarch.

Wenje se yn it stasjon?
It hat achter de pompen
in betonnen weranda, mei
in wrak, fan fet trochlutsen
rotan-ameublemint derop;
op de reiden sofa,
hiel noflik, in smoarge hûn.

In pear stripboeken jouwe
it iennichste kleuraksint –
in bestimde kleur. Se lizze
op in grut útfallen kleedsje,
feal, dat in krukje oerdekt
(diel fan it ameublemint), nêst
in grutte hierrige begoania.

Wêrom dy singeliere plant?
Wêrom dat krukje?
Wêrom, ach wêrom dat kleedsje?
(Borduerd yn koweblomkesstek
mei margriten, tink ik,
en swier troch it grauwe haakwurk.)

Ien hat it kleedsje borduerd.
Ien jout de plant wetter,
of oalje miskien. Ien
skikt de rigen blikken
sadanich dat se súntsjes
ESSOSOSOSO
sizze tsjin opfokte auto’s.
Ien hâldt fan ús allegearre.

 

Filling Station

Oh, but it is dirty!
—this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color—
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
ESSOSOSOSO
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

 

Ut Questions of Travel, 1965

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