Thursday Poem


Old man in the middle of reeds suspicion of the poet.
He goes his way to the North he composes a book with his eyes.
He writes himself on the water he has lost his master.
Love only in the things cut out of clouds and winds.
This is his calling to visit friends as a farewell.
To gather skulls and lips under swaying skies.
Always the eye’s kiss translated into the fit of words.
Seventeen the holy number in which the apparition is sealed.
Time consumed by a butterfly frozen in stone,
In a tide of marble the sheen of cut fossils.
Here the poet passed on his way to the North.
Here the poet passes forever once.

by Cees Nooteboom
from The Captain of the Butterflies
publisher: Sun & Moon Press, 1997