BALLAD OF THE GASFITTER
You must have made your entry from the rear.
To each house in the row I turn my glance
and in each curtained window catch a glimpse
of You, as out of nothing You appear.
As I move past You seem to slip away.
Yet I am not mistaken, vide the next frame.
One Jansen lives there with his family--
as if You could escape under that name.
The ruse won't work. A door remains a door,
each with its steps, its mailbox, and its bell.
The apple hawker lures you with his call.
A master key is easy to procure.
Indeed I can quite freely step inside
as (at your service) gasfitter by trade.
At your address, by daylight, on the job
disguised in workman's clothing, I wheel round
and behold You standing there. Walls turn to ground,
ceiling slowly becomes a marble slab.
We fade to each other in murky light.
The room is saturated, won't hold more.
This can't go on. I turn the screws down tight.
As long as I devote myself to this chore
we can proceed as we are, incognito--
as long as I stay busy, bend or kneel
or lie flat on my belly trying to feel
what's wrong; thinking to myself, It's better so.
Dead silence by a hammer blow dispelled.
Death hush by which the hammer blows are healed.
Translated by J. M. Coetzee