The Dutch Riveter: Poems from THE FOLLOWING SCAN WILL LAST FIVE MINUTES by Lieke Marsman, translated by Sophie Collins

Before you sink away into the morphinesweet unreality of the everyday
we would like to say something
about those spasms and fasciculations of yours
as well as that bump on your back

For years you have no doubt
been googling every freckle. Just recently
you were at the doctor’s with a patch
of dry skin on your leg
Diagnosis: too much shower gel
But on hearing the word chondrosarcoma
you went home and immediately unplugged your router
Do you know where your priorities lie?

Do you know what life has to offer
or did those endless therapy sessions
and that eight-week mindfulness course
simply teach you how to tolerate suffering
that every signal in your body
can be temporarily expelled
to the rhythm of some breathing exercise?
     Let the pain be
     To be free is to be free of need
To be free is to need some fresh air
and to be able to get up and go outside

Don’t say we didn’t warn you
These are strange times, unstable times.
Seasons change, but never turn
into holidays.

You coexist with other bodies
that piss, dribble, rant, shit. All the while
a choir in a minor key softly screaming,

Your body is sick, but you will heal, this will fade.
You’ll lie in the grass, stiller, thinner,
receive visitors looking fashionably underweight.
Cancer has no calendar, so be patient.

Evaporate, condensate. Even disasters
are composites of events, not products of fate.
You just have to distill, then ablate:
You will heal. This will fade.

By Lieke Marsman

Translated by Sophie Collins


Published by Liverpool University Press (2019)

By permission of Liverpool University Press. This collection can be purchased via the following link.

Read The Dutch Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy this title through the European Literature Network’s The Dutch Riveter page.

Lieke Marsman, an Amsterdam-based poet and author, is one of the leading new voices in Dutch literature. After winning a cluster of prizes for her 2010 poetry debut, Wat ik mijzelf graag voorhoud (‘Things I Tell Myself’), she has since published two further poetry collections and a novel. Her latest poetry collection, The Following Scan Will Last Five Minutes, was released in English translation in 2019, and her novel Het tegenovergestelde van een mens (‘The Opposite of a Person’, 2017) is currently being translated into English for Daunt Books.

Sophie Collins is an Edinburgh-based poet, editor and translator, who grew up in Bergen. Her first full poetry collection Who is Mary Sue? was a PBS Spring 2018 Choice and won the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize in 2019. Her translation of Lieke Marsman’s The Following Scan Will Last Five Minutes was published by Liverpool University Press in 2019.

Category: TranslationsMarch 2021 – The Dutch Riveter


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