Lies Van Gasse

One fought his silence here for days.
Just like a word one lay and waited
for sense, the swerve of speech.

And one might bump into his eyes,
anchored as deep as holes.

One also wished to speak of letters
as faltering palisades.

Of nights long gone
beside a bottled man,
the feline whine.

Nothing was unimportant.
It wasn’t his words, it was the order
in which he kept them quiet.


And where the trees surround you with sweet nothings,
lilies shoot up ever slender,

where hands grow out of the air,
while being far from perfect.

There, heads shoot out from buds in nightly woods,
but they are tenderly entangled. And once

an undertone that grabs your inner fears,
a song that passes over

rustling as of glass.


Just come here and purr against my belly, love,
where a river overflowed its banks.

Just go to sleep below a sky of filigree,
let eyes roll in their sockets,
here below a gilded ceiling.

The veins are soft within,
we blossom in the darkness.

Do not outswim the sea,
don’t cage the bird,
don’t starve the animals.

Wash the words,
place letters in their cupboards.

The body screams,
the belly cries with a clear voice.
The cracks are showing on all sides.

We take in tall windows,
growing older while it could be younger.
In this warmth a fruit is growing, pin-size.

Just come here and fall asleep in my hand, love.
It’s coming, it will shine.


All work translated from Dutch by Willem Groenewegen


Lies van Gasse (1983), is a poet, visual artist and school teacher. She has published four books. Two volumes of poetry: ‘Hetzelfde gedicht steeds weer’ (The Same Poem Over and Over; 2008) and ‘Brak de waterdrager’ (The Water-Bearer Broke; 2011). She has also published two ‘graphic poems’ where her poetry and art go hand in hand: ‘Sylvia’ (2010) and ‘Waterdicht’ (Water Poem, together with Peter Theunynck; 2011). All four titles are published with Wereldbibliotheek in Amsterdam.

Willem Groenewegen (1971) is a bilingual Dutch-English literary translator. He has translated many poets from the Netherlands and Flanders since 2001, for publishers like Shearsman, Arc and Seren, and for magazines like Fulcrum Annual, Poetry Review, Poetry London and Ambit. In 2007 his translations of Rutger Kopland’s poetry, What Water Left Behind (2006), were shortlisted for the Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation.


Read more work by Lies Van Gasse:

3 AM Magazine
Interview with Lies Van Gasse