After the Affair
You sat in the box-room,
I was too small
to turn you round.
You saw me as part of Mum,
not me Mum and Dad.
I waved goodbye to myself
across the widening gorge.
The shadows came,
chased me towards the edge.
There used to be another one of me.
A Dutch girl, spoke Dutch, thought in Dutch.
how many Englishes there were to learn.
She mixed them up,
got labelled ‘posh’,
The things she couldn’t say in English.
‘Snoepje’ meant ‘sweet’,
but Dutch ‘snoepjes’ were salty.
‘Koekjes’ filled the room with cinnamon,
‘biscuits’ smelt of flour.
The little Dutch words used to soften
had no English meanings.
Unexpressed, she disappeared.
When I conjugate the verbs she used to know,
and get the feel of words you can’t translate,
it’s like furnishing a room
to tempt her back.
Judith van Dijkhuizen
If you have any
thoughts on these poems, Judith van Dijkhuizen would be pleased to hear them.