planting seedlings

In Zeeland (Poem by Erik Lindner)

Erik Lindner is a Dutch poet, writer and literary critic. His work has been translated into French, German, Italian and English.

In Zeeland comes from his collection Words are the Worst: Selected Poems, which was translated from the Dutch by Francis R. Jones. Jones has received many translation awards and prizes and is the the only translator to have won the UK's biennial European Poetry Prize twice. We published his translation of In Zeeland in Issue 64 of Dutch the magazine.

In Zeeland

A tractor drives at a snail's pace toward the dyke
and as it moves eight lines appear

and in the middle of each furrow behind the tractor
stands a row of seedlings.

The man on the tractor pulls the dyke toward him
pushes a lever forward and turns the steering wheel

to line the tractor up with the furrows just made
and starts a new route away from the dyke.

Six seasonal workers sit under canvas
on the back of the tractor two dole out the seedlings

and four shaded by the tarpaulin drop the plants
down the holes in the bench in front of them.

Behind the tractor a pole is lowered with eight prongs
that ride along the ground the plants slide down them

and are woven into rows out of the workers' sight
looking at their hands they lift up the land.

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