High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Rand Helawi: Empty Room
Friday Verses

Rand Helawi: Empty Room

This week's Friday Verses are written by Rand Helawi. We translated Leeg Vertrek (Empty Room). This poem was first published in Dutch in Het Liegend Konijn, a magazine for contemporary Dutch-language poetry.

Rand Helawi (Elsene, b. 1999) is studying for a Master’s degree in French-German Translation at the Free University of Brussels. Her love of poetry began when she was twelve years old. She has contributed to such magazines as Deus Ex Machina, Meander, Het Liegend Konijn and Het Gezeefde Gedicht. Her dream is one day to publish a collection of her own.

Empty Room

how must we be white today
when only yesterday we were still black?

our childhood
lies under the rubble of our mothers
they’ve turned into widows

we iron our tongue
into a carpet of cries
but some voices are not heard
some voices are just forgotten

we scan houses which have a room left
but only the doormat bids us welcome

(Dutch version below the photo)

Leeg vertrek

hoe moeten we vandaag wit zijn
als we gisteren nog zwart waren?

onze kindertijd
ligt onder het puin van onze moeders
hebben ze weduwes gemaakt

we strijken onze tong
tot een tapijt van kreten
maar sommige stemmen worden niet gehoord
sommige stemmen worden enkel vergeten

we scannen huizen die een kamer over hebben
maar enkel de deurmat heet ons welkom

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