The mother the woman
I went to Bommel; I just had to view
the new bridge. The two banks – so far apart
they seem to have shunned each other from the start –
are neighbours now. Lying in the grass, time flew:
no sooner had I stretched out, drunk my tea,
my head full of the landscape far and wide,
than, in the midst of that vast countryside,
a voice rang out that struck a chord with me.
It was a woman. The small ship in her care
sailed past the bridge slowly, the soul of calm.
She worked the helm, alone in the fresh air,
and what she sang, I realised, was a psalm.
O, that it were my mother sailing there.
Praise God, she sang, who holds you in His palm.
Translation: © Judith Wilkinson, 2009