Madame despises her guests for wanting to stay at
her seedy hotel.
I have a corner room on the first floor: an awful bed,
a bulb hanging from the ceiling.
Oddly enough heavy hangings where a quarter of a million
invisible mites are on the march.
Outside a pedestrian street goes past
with strolling tourists, fleet-footed schoolchildren, men
dressed for work leading rattling bikes.
Those who think they make the world spin round and those who
think they are helplessly spun round in the world’s grasp.
A street all of us take – where does it eventually lead us?
The only window in the room looks out over something else:
The Wild Square,
a fermenting field, a huge trembling surface, sometimes full
of people and sometimes deserted.
Everything I have within me materialises there – all my fears,
all my hopes.
All the unthinkable that will even so occur.
I have low shores, if death rises eight inches or more
I will be inundated.
I am Maximilian. The year is 1488. I am being held a prisoner
here in Bruges
because my enemies are at a loss –
they are evil idealists and what they have done in the backyard
of horrors I cannot describe, cannot transform blood
I am also the man in overalls pushing his rattling
bike further down the street.
I am also the person who is visible, the tourist who walks and
then stops, walks and then stops
letting his gaze wander over the pale moon-burnt faces and
heaving material of the old paintings.
Nobody decides where I shall go, least of all myself,
and yet each step is taken as it must be.
To walk around in the fossil wars where everyone’s invulnerable
because everyone is dead!
The dusty masses of leaves, the walls with their
openings, the garden paths where petrified tears
crunch under heels...
Unexpectedly as if I had walked into a trip-wire the
carillon starts up in the anonymous tower.
Carillon! The sack splits at its seams and
the notes spill out across Flanders.
Carillon! The cooing iron, hymn and pop-song of the
bells, all in one, and written quivering in the air.
With shaky hand the doctor wrote a prescription that no one can
decipher though the handwriting is recognised...
Over roof and square, over grass and switch
Over living and dead their notes now roam.
Christ and Antichrist – which is which?
The bells will finally fly us home.
They have fallen silent.
I am back in my hotel room: the bed, the lamp,
the hangings. Strange sounds can be heard here, the cellar
is dragging itself up the stairs.
I lie on the bed, my arms outstretched.
I am an anchor that has dug down deep and
that holds on
the huge shadow that is floating up there
the great unknown that I am a part of and that is certainly
more important than I am.
Outside the pedestrian street goes past, the street where my
footsteps die away as does what’s written, my preface to
silence, my inverted, heretical hymn.