For Chengian Chen
Mr Chen (born in Fujian, 1/8/1947) had already been living illegally in our country for some time. In 1993, his application for a residence permit for himself and his family was turned down. After that, his wife and children returned to China. Cheng remained here. When a fire broke out on 14 March 2006 in the boarding house on the Valkenburgstraat in Amsterdam where he resided with a number of other illegal immigrants, he jumped out of a window on the second floor.
Houses with towers of prizes and slanting
beams in the display windows back gardens and sun rooms
opening double-doors and a silver bus
that rides into the future; neither the umbrella
with the opened-out heart in the wastepaper basket
nor the dry palm tree on the ground floor
can carry me. Have somebody take him away
he’s no adornment and no one so drab and already snapped.
I will fall as rain along the facade and place
a foot in the void. If they ask me who
I am I will say the smoke forced heavens into my heart.
They swear they haven’t known me
but when pushed they calmly point to
where I lived: there where no one opens.