EUROPE IN ROTTERDAM
The heart of Europe is hurting me, with its veins swollen
by the wind out of the West, and its hands cracked by the ice
of winters. I sat down with Europe in a Rotterdam bar,
drawing the maps of the world in my mind; I made her
drink a Dutch coffee, with her sick lips,
as though Europe were not the insomniac continent
of the latest millennia, swept by the storms of
mythology, belief shaken by an atheist terror.
I saw Europe in that café in Rotterdam, before going out
into the streets drawn by compass and set square;
I asked her where she would like to go; and heard her
murmur slip out of her plural paleness, as though
she’d wanted to be the crowd’s single face,
and walk anonymously down the cosmopolitan street,
hearing the voices which speak of to her of islands and beaches,
that restore her dream of ancient voyages.
In her eyes I see a reflection of the cranes and
winches of Rotterdam port, and I rub it out
with eternity’s eraser, so that she’ll sit
on the esplanade where I ask her to talk to me; and
she looks at me, in silence, with her voice crazed
by an echo of madness; and I listen to her tell me that
she doesn’t know what period she lives in, as though
it had to be me that had shown her the path.
I take her hand; she comes undone in the improbable
lines of the poem, where a shadow is
projected, which I lose, in the Rotterdam night.