Toon Tellegen

Translated by Judith Wilkinson

3 Poems

It was raining
and the air was full of suspicion and despondency

and an angel appeared
and struck someone down,
and then another person,
and another person,

and at the rear, in the dark, behind everyone,
cowering, with his back against a wall,
a man was sitting, looked at the ground
and thought,
thought more and more deeply,
thought for days months years
and finally, one morning,
in a fit of recklessness - gulls
screeching in the pale air - thought:
'And yet…'

and the angel worked his way towards him.

'You mustn't feel pain,' said an angel
and he struck a man down.

'Are you in pain?' he asked.
The man nodded.
'But I just told you…!' the angel shouted

and he struck the man, kicked him, bit him,
'and no grief and no regret and no longing for other times!'

It grew dark.
The angel got up and threw the man away

and the man fell to the ground
and with the greatest possible zeal and scrupulousness
obeyed the angel's commands.

It was a warm day.
I can't go on, a man thought.
An angel looked at him furtively
and thought: neither can I.

Evening came.
One of us must beg for mercy,
the angel gasped.
Yes, gasped the man, one of us.

The moon came up
and the world was large and pale,
surged around them.
They wiped the blood off their faces
and slowly continued their fight.

One of us, the angel whispered.
Yes, the man whispered, one of us.