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Under dutch skies

Under dutch skies

The steel guides me
to the next station,
And outside the window,
quiet cornfields rush past.
A low sun shines
on green field-hands.
Their plastic shapes
sharp in the light.
Towards my destination,
dark rain fails.
Layers of grey and white,
float in from the sea.
It is suddenly fall
and i see this painting.
And I dream in your of your hand in mine.
And behind those clouds,
the skis blue, so vividly blue

Liberation day

The wall shattered into bricks when it finally toppled over. It caused a cloud of dust to rise up.  Katerine and the other women applauded as they had done for every wall that had fallen. They then entered the cloud,  picked up the bricks and put them in carts. Katerine’s  fingers hurt  because they were  already blistered. Her long brown hair, shot through with gray, was now gray all over. She breathed dust, tasted dust; she was dust.  When her cart was full,  she joined a row of women pushing the carts  towards the  building site. There other women took the  bricks from the carts, applied a mixture that was supposed to be cement and placed them on top of each other to make a new wall. An old man had told them how to do it, but he had been fuzzy about the details.

A soldier, clad in a green overcoat and wearing a green felt hat, strolled over  the site.  He gave Katerine a cursory glance. His gaze soon strayed to other women who were less shapeless and showed more skin. Katerine  sighed with relief. She had dressed in a dull and uninteresting way.  It worked well, as long as there were others around.

She had given her teen daughter Emen the same advice. “Cover yourself. Look dirty and unclean. Don’t excite them.”  And every day she made sure to check the looks of her daughter.

The soldier walked up to a sprightly girl. An older woman moved between him and the girl. Other women  gathered around.

Katerine didn’t join the women, instead she hurried up towards a wooden shack overlooking the site, where the sergeant had her quarters. Katerine prayed that Nessa was in, as she usually was out exploring the city. She had showed Katerine and Emen her collection of pictures of places she had visited after her army had liberated them..

Emen had offered to show Nessa around. The sergeant had agreed and  had showered them with small gifts. Chocolate and canned fish. Priceless luxuries.  One day she brought roses, which had made Katerine laugh. “Only husbands and men wooing women give roses.”

Nessa had blushed, but Emen had said they were very grateful. She later berated her mother for hurting the feelings of the sergeant, who was the only protection they had.

Katerine  opened the door  without knocking. The sun shone through the shutters on the graceful frame of Emen sitting astride Nessa. The top of her dress was undone, and  her breasts uncovered.  Two pairs of eyes blinked at Katerine. They seem more curious then shocked.

Katerine  paused for a moment  and then, not knowing what else to say, she blurted out: ”There is a soldier outside bothering one of the girls…”

The sergeant rose quickly, put on her jacket and boots and rushed outside. She avoided to look at Katerine.

Emen covered herself, then joined her mother.  They looked on while Nessa  barked sharp orders at the soldier.

Nessa once looked up at them. She smiled.

Katerine recognized that smile. It had of late appeared more often.

“Isn’t she marvelous?…” Emen beamed. She grasped her mother’s arm.

“Well..”

“I know. It was a surprise for the both of us as well.”

“So she didn’t.., like..,  like, those soldiers do?”

“Force herself on me? Have her greedy hands all over me against my will?” Emen shook her head fervently. “She had no such feelings for anyone before she met me. That is what she said and I believe her.”

“Oh.”

“I had to push her,  Mom.  Nessa is awfully shy. When you laughed at her after she gave those roses she felt so bad that she almost cried.”

“Oh. I am so sorry. You would not think she is like that..” Nessa  had just kicked the soldier in the behinds..

“It’s a role. She outranks him, so she can kick him around. He would not expect anything less.”

“She once did that to an officer too.”

“She is a woman, she can get away with kicking men.” Emen laughed.

“So, you love her?”

“Yes..”  Emen said wholeheartedly.

“And she loves you…”

“Yes… Today I conquered the enemy.” Emen giggled, a sound that made Nessa smile. “And she conquered me”

“I didn’t know you had feelings for women.” Katerine said. “Guess, it means that I won’t get to be a grandma.”

“ You might never know, Mom.” Emen patted her tummy,  kissed her mother on the cheek and gave Nessa the loveliest smile.

That last day(okinawa)flash version

The flag was raised on the highest point of the island.
The sergeant lit his cigar and looked around..
The horizon was filled with grey shapes bobbing on an azure sea.
A rook started a tentative song.
“I could live here.” The sergeant said.
The next day he returned home where a drizzle of early snow greeted him on the quay.

Five decades he worked until a former enemy invited him back to that island.
Once more he ascended the hill where the flag had been.
There he lit his last cigar.
“I could have lived here.” The sergeant said..
The rook started a jubilant song.

King for a week

The king stared out of the window across the small stone balcony to three struggling figures on the gravel below.
The  drizzle was thin enough to have him recognize the two blue uniformed men who were dragging away a frail pink figure.
‘A woman’, he thought, ‘Who else would wear pink?’
At that moment his eye caught the end of a white pole sticking out of  some rose bushes. He surmised that the policemen were too occupied to take the sign with them. No doubt it would be collected soon.
The king sighed. He had been very busy with the coronation and made long exhausting hours. He had tried, for a joke, to count hands he shook, but he had lost count somewhere. The faces of people had become a blur.  He had even forgotten what he had eaten today. He wondered what that  protester would eat. A hamburger? No… A vegan burger. Something without meat, no doubt.  Usually they were vegetarian: crackpots in any event. Always telling others what to think or do.

He turned towards the mirror to dust off his blue uniform with it’s gold and yellow epaulettes and tresses. Not that it needed cleaning, but it was just this thing to do.  Everything was meticulously cleaned and pressed. The buttons glistened.  And the awards on the left breast were neat rows upon rows of many colored pieces of cloth. These things he had gained over time.  He was most proud of the cross he had been given when he had taken part of that skating event  that only happened once in a decade and you had to reach to end after skating a grueling hundred miles. None of his predecessors had ever gained one. The knock on the door told him it was time for his next appearance.

Later that night he discovered that the sign was still in the bushes. Apparently the policemen had completely forgotten about it.
What would it say?
Maybe he could have it brought in?
He dismissed the idea at once. If he wanted to read it, he wanted to be the first to touch it. It had to be pristine. All these servants and guards acted like a wall. He felt distanced from the world. He was never alone. Never touched something that was not touched by others. Even on the toilet he suspected there would be people watching him. Hidden camera’s checking on him. Over the years hours of hours of film would be gathered with him groaning on the privy.
He shrugged. It was best not to think about the sign, because it probably would say something nice. Even protesters were nice in this land. Exclamation marks were turned into question marks. It was less offensive to turn statements into questions.
It was boring!
Maybe he could sneak outside. He knew the routines of the guards by heart. And he knew if he kept close to the wall the camera might not spot him. And the dogs? Well, they knew their king. They would ignore him.
He imagined himself James Bond. His hand reaching out to the sign. Grabbing it  quickly and then sneaking back inside to have look at it.
But where?
There was no place where he could go to be alone with his prize.
His  thoughts were interrupted when his wife entered the room: it was time to sleep.

The next morning he rose to a summers dawn.  Couples of guards would start patrolling the grounds soon. In the distance, behind the gates, tourists and journalists would gather, hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal family.
He was often advised to stay away from the windows, even thought they were bulletproof and blinded from the outside. They said it attract more people and some of them might be terrorists or other deranged people. Just shooting him would give someone those fifteen minutes of fame.
He peeked outside.
The sign was still there; in those bushes.
It was destiny.
He had to see what it said.
He had to.
Quickly he walked downstairs and expertly navigated the corridors he knew since birth.  He increased speed so the servants and courtiers would be left behind. Speed always left them floundering.
On his slippers and in his morning coat, with it’s diagonal stripes of red, white and blue he rushed over the yellow gravel towards the rose bushes. He imagined him superman, with impossible speed he soared towards his goal.
People started to appear from all sides.  Guards, who with wide eyed panic saw their head of state run in nothing but a coat and slippers over the grounds in plain public.
The commotion spread like a wave.
The guards didn’t know what to do. They could not wrestle their king to the ground as they had done with that protester.
How to stop this rogue king?
He became aware that outside the fences there were already people. Tourists? Journalists? He saw flashes of light..
He reached the bushes,  grabbed the sign and pulled it free.
He lifted it up to read it.
Standing there in full view of a crowd of servants, guards, courtiers, tourists and journalists he held the sign aloft. .
It said: “I am the king. Arrest me!”

Violence

A day would glue itself to another day.
And when there were enough you call it a week.
Or a month.
Or a lifetime.
Each had the same familiar pattern that you could follow without thinking.
Rise – eat – shit – sleep.
A stagnant pattern of repeat motions.
“The beauty of life is that it ends someday.” He thought.
Sometimes  soon and unexpected..

 

Violence