H.C. ten Berge

Translated by Paul Vincent

from Down Piazzolla Street


‘Where to begin,’ someone wrote to you once
             in a letter.
Often it’s close by:
a creature by the roadside (the armadillo
that blindly crossed), a landscape, a fox
on the barn, a sparrow
in the hedge, an empty house
at the edge of a wood – a squall of rain
lashing the plane-trees.

Perhaps a hare
summarily riddling a sleeping
hunter with buckshot.

Or like here,
glued together, eyes half closed
     a couple dancing the tango
on a street corner at night.
The café poorly lit, plastic chairs
     on an empty pavement.
He furrowed, serious, in hat and well-worn jacket,
a silk scarf around his neck.
She, a derelict beauty
     in a tight dress with a slit,
who has just executed
a sweep of the leg
in passing it seems, a fraction delayed,
with finesse:
Raw and intimate this dance
a poem
that with casual mastery
surpasses all else.