Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
When It Happens to You
How do you go to sleep when you’ve just run over a sheep, trembling on the
edge of the bed your cold hands slapped on your eyes like raw steaks, her hand
cupped like half an orange pressing heavily on your knee, twisting back
and forth to squeeze out everything that happened to you but don't forget the speed
of speech, without pauses you don’t break the vacuum, don’t give sadness
a chance to butt in. Please talk about wine, you're thinking, about how the kids
are growing up and all those poppies recklessly bursting open but her face has long
since become an autocue, you know what you need to say to reassure her:
putting on a sunny face is all about rain and it's raining as if we'd dreamt up the sun
a long time ago. You walk round and round the bedroom trying to snap
your thoughts shut like a bracelet, wash your hands again and again and look at them to
check their cleanliness, your body hissing like a rusty barbecue.
She says there are glasses and a bottle of wine in the bedside table, from the last time that
you shaking and so much blood. After two glasses she passes out, you curl up under the sheets
like the sheep under your tyres, you think of everything ever killed that brought a blow
with it, you'll carry that with you until your heart turns into a grave, your head
like a slab of granite on top, finally calmed down you cry wine until it is not
about the sheep anymore but about who consoles the driver, you poor, crazy dog.
They say that everything is made of seed and the world is one big kitchen garden
that not all things are always connected but we like building bridges.
The thought that mothers once used to be daughters too who needed someone
to help them reach the other side frightened me because I only know mine
from the years when I myself still knew who I was and what role I had to play, children
are originally scientists. But on my birthday, she lifted me onto her lap
saying a seedling had been planted inside of her, that my father was chopping down the
walnut tree to make an extra chair. Sometimes I dreamed that the earth turned to water
that for once my mother would just make tea, inhabit the couch and that
we’d talk about bridges and how they always hung in between two sides
had no beginning or end but one thing was certain: they had a reason
to stay. Her belly big from eating potting soil, she told me while I blew out
candles that I must never blindly rely on someone else's strength, that sprouting seed
always needed a mother and should then grow up quickly so that my father
wouldn't have to chop down all the trees.
Everything Breaks One Day
As I get off, a man asks if beer will make me break sooner
and did I know that pubs were like cats that slept during the day, and at night
curled their warmth around you like puff pastry in an oven. I think of the times
I saw my house in a state of drunkenness, of the strange moulded shape of the seats
grazes that didn't get a chance to heal. Of the floor that afterwards
clung to my feet for days and I how locked myself in because the corridor projected
images of people kissing. Someone wrote on the wallpaper that people were like
milk pans and that boiling point never came suddenly but always after a
slow build-up. I wiped over it with a dishcloth and saw my
mother who, when boiling over, fed the goldfish bottles of Chardonnay
then brought the bowl to her lips, proudly said it had been ages since she'd touched
a drop. I drew a stove for the pan in felt-tip pen, so now you can
adjust the temperature yourself. And I shake my head at the man in the street and he
laughs when I tell him that breaking point has nothing to do with booze
and everything with the instant the glasses touch.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (b. 1991) grew up on her parents’ farm in rural North Brabant before moving to Utrecht. Her first book of poetry, Kalfsvlies, won the C. Buddingh’ Prize for best poetry debut of 2015, and in the same year, she was awarded the C.C.S. Crone Grant and the Hollands Maandblad Encouragement Prize. Rijneveld regularly performs her poetry at literary festivals and her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines.
The originals are in Kalfsvlies, Atlas Contact, Amsterdam, 2015
Associate Partner:- 'The Resurgence Poetry Prize'
World’s first major ecopoetry award. With a first prize of £5,000 for the best single poem embracing ecological themes, the award ranks amongst the highest of any English language single poem competition. Second prize is £2,000 and third prize £1,000.