Poetry Collection: The Lady from Across the Sea

The Lady from across the Sea is in love with a world broken into a glorious prism of humanity. Rijsdijk renders the power of the mothers, the tragedy of the lovers, and the struggle of the forgotten in such clear tones and immersive scenes that she gives her readers permission to surrender to the waves. – Sean Felix

The Lady from across the Sea is the author’s second poetry collection. It is available in my shop.

Zus

zus died yesterday
we say in her sleep
but the truth is
her lungs started
filling with fluid
and she needed
injections
and phone calls
with doctors
because life
is sometimes
messy that way

zus was almost
a century old
with very little hair
left on her head
but a lot of joy
in her eyes and
a certain clarity
of mind

the last time
i saw here
i bumped
a wheelchair
against her table
it made her
chuckle

zus means
sister in dutch
which she still was
but her last remaining
sibling lost
her mind
a long time ago
which means
zus will live on
as long as she does
and we will
eventually
stop reminding her

zus told us stories
about the traveling
she had done
in her time
the americas
and asia
and a lot of europe
too

time
it’s funny how
we think it’s ours
until we run out of it

we stand in her
little room
relics of the people
she lost are everywhere
there is a picture
of a black and white couple
in a rowing boat
on her wall
a younger version
of her and
what i assume
was her husband

there are souvenirs
from her travels
smiling faces
of the children
that came after her

zus lays
in bed
embalmed
her nails
painted red
and a fake blush
gracing her wrinkly
little face

i can’t believe
how alive she looks
i say
and
god they were
efficient

we look at her
in her best top
and i realise
my mind
never really
accepts the bodies
they leave behind

i see their
chests rise
long after
their hearts
have stopped
beating

shame we can’t open
her window
my workmate says
she would have loved
to hear the spring birds
sing

Untitled

how to die a little
on the inside

shut the door
and close your eyes
as you cradle
yourself
on the floor

my love
the concrete is cold
and why are your
eyes leaking

didn’t they
tell you
that all you
have to do
is not
let them see
the black
pouring out

to not let them
hear
the sounds
that leave
your mouth
at night
when time
is just this thing
that passes
and wounds
are still wounds
are still wounds

Doctor’s Office

it smells of vomit
and cleaning products
red chairs packed together
like in a theatre 
but the drama is only
unfolding in my head
today

no stage
for actors
to faint on
or cry on
or die on

just
the smell of vomit
sliding doors
a splash of depression 
mixed with human decay
bodies decomposing
in a brightly painted room

what a show
i think
as i try digging
deep within myself
for that spark
they told me
to cradle
and hold on to

Spiders

“What are you afraid of?” she asked.
I was silent for a minute,
then looked at her again.

“I am afraid of
growing old before my time,
of waking up one morning
and referring to my youth
instead of living it.

I am afraid of being mediocre,
I am afraid of not living
every day to the fullest.

I am afraid of growing old
without him.
I am afraid that he will stop trembling
under my touch one day.
I am afraid of growing old in my ways,
of burning up before my time.

That is what I am afraid of.”

She did not speak.

“Does this answer your question?”

She smiled, and sipped her coffee.
“A simple ‘spiders’
would have sufficed.”

Spoken Word

i watch them
speak

poets
with
funky
loud-mouthed
personalities

they speak
their words
accompanied
by wild
hand
gestures

suffering
for their art
in front
of an
audience

it happens
in a certain
tone of voice

and none of it
is like me

but the world
says art
is a certain way
and i know
i am another

i ask
if this means
my words
are less meaningful
simply whispered
in the dark

Queen

someone
sprayed
‘king’
on the side
of my
electricity box

i still think about it
when i clean the car
dad said
i was cleaning the car
when it happened

i place my hand
on the box
when we pass it
a force of habit
the symbol of
life
after death
where my bike
came to a halt
together with
my youth

a rush of blood
to the head
my disc man
stopped playing
i cried when i pressed
the resume button
days later
in my hospital bed

i smile when
i see the purple letters
and say something like
i think that should
say ‘queen’
instead