Elizabeth Bishop, Utfanhuzer

 
Utfanhuzer

It sombere skroarske
dat dizze moanne by ús tahâldt
is lyts en skraal en bitter.
Net ien dy’t har opfleurje kin.
Jou har in jurk, drinken,
brette hin of bakte fisk –
it lit har ûnferskillich.

Sy sit mar en sjocht tv.
Nee, se sjocht nei rûs.
‘Kinst de tv net bystelle?’
‘Nee,’ seit se. Gjin hoop.
Sy sjocht en sjocht mar,
sûnder hoop, ekspresjeleas.

Har eigen klean jouwe ús te tinken,
mar sy is net in earme wees.
Sy hat in heit en in mem en sa,
fertsjinnet bêst aardich
en wy tropje har fol
mei streksume kost.

Hjir, de fierrekiker, noadzje wy har.
Wy sizze: ‘Kom nei de strieljagers sjen!’
Wy sizze: ‘Kom nei de poppe sjen!’
Of nei de skjirreslyp dy’t hiel knap
it folksliet spilet, snerpjend
op syn slypstien.
Neat helpt.

Sy sprekt: ‘Ik haw wat jild
nedich om knopen te keapjen.’
Der om freegje fynt sy blykber
sinleas. Hearken, keapje knopen
as dat sa noadich moat,
de grutste yn ’e wrâld –
dozinen, by it gros!
Keapje foar dysels in iisko,
in stripboek, in auto!

Har gesicht is sletten as in nút,
sletten as in hoeden slak
of in tûzenjierrich siedsje.
Dreamt se oer trouwen?
Of ryk wurde? Har naaiwurk
is perfoarst midsmjittich.

Asjeblyft! Nim ús jild! Laitsje!
Wat yn ’e goedichheid ha wy dien?
Wat hat elkenien misdien
en wannear is dat alles begûn?
Dan op in dei lit se los
dat sy non wurde woe
en har famylje it opkearde.

Miskien moatte wy har gean litte
of har fuortdaalk ôfleverje
by it neiste kleaster – wie trouwens
har moanne ferline wike al net om?

Kin it wêze dat wy yn ús boezem
in Skikgoadinne koesterje?
Klotho, dy’t ús libbens benaait
mei in bientich lyts fuotsje
op in liende naaimasine –
binne ús lotsbeskikkings no as harres
en ús seamen foar ivich skeef?

 

House Guest

The sad seamstress
who stays with us this month
is small and thin and bitter.
No one can cheer her up.
Give her a dress, a drink,
roast chicken, or fried fish—
it’s all the same to her.

She sits and watches TV.
No, she watches zigzags.
“Can you adjust the TV?”
“No,” she says. No hope.
She watches on and on,
without hope, without air.

Her own clothes give us pause,
but she’s not a poor orphan.
She has a father, a mother,
and all that, and she’s earning
quite well, and we’re stuffing
her with fattening foods.

We invite her to use the binoculars.
We say, “Come see the jets!”
We say, “Come see the baby!”
Or the knife grinder who cleverly
plays the National Anthem
on his wheel so shrilly.
Nothing helps.

She speaks: “I need a little
money to buy buttons.”
She seems to think it’s useless
to ask. Heavens, buy buttons,
if they’ll do any good,
the biggest in the world—
by the dozen, by the gross!
Buy yourself an ice cream,
a comic book, a car!

Her face is closed as a nut,
closed as a careful snail
or a thousand-year-old seed.
Does she dream of marriage?
Of getting rich? Her sewing
is decidedly mediocre.

Please! Take our money! Smile!
What on earth have we done?
What has everyone done
and when did it all begin?
Then one day she confides
that she wanted to be a nun
and her family opposed her.

Perhaps we should let her go,
or deliver her straight off
to the nearest convent—and wasn’t
her month up last week, anyway?

Can it be that we nourish
one of the Fates in our bosoms?
Clotho, sewing our lives
with a bony little foot
on a borrowed sewing machine,
and our fates will be like hers,
and our hems crooked forever?

 

Ut it skift ‘New and Uncollected Work’ yn The Complete Poems, 1969. Klotho is yn de Grykske en Romeinske mytology ien fan de trije Skikgoadinnen (Moirai of Fata). Klotho spint ús libbenstried.

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