Norman Erikson Pasaribu

Norman Erikson Pasaribu

For Adi

Translated by Tiffany Tsao

There are never letters from you
not one, single, soggy, rain-drenched,
waiting in the mailbox outside.
And when I turn my head
never the faintest glimmer of you
greets me at the lane’s end.

One by one my heart’s leaves fall
a slow shroud settling on a lake,
fog herding them off to the old church  
shuttered, no longer holding mass.   

The girl you loved to play with, 
ponytail bouncing,
weeps inside me all afternoon.
Maybe it’s because winter will never be done
or spring will never come. Who knows.

Are you coming by for Christmas?
There’ll be chocolate milk. Real milk.

As you know, Santa will be a no-show
for festivities this year.

Don’t you miss me? Why not murmur it
in the howling of the wind
or unbodily footsteps in the middle of the night?

What am I to you?
The library book you always browsed past?
The sandwich crusts you never ate?

Don’t you miss me? Don’t you miss 
me coming home every first of the month? 
Don’t you hear

we’re here?

NORMAN ERIKSON PASARIBU is a poet and writer based in Jakarta. His debut poetry collection, Sergius Mencari Bacchus, won first prize in the 2015 Jakarta Arts Council Poetry Competition. His short story collection HAPPY STORIES, MOSTLY was longlisted for the Booker International Prize.

TIFFANY TSAO is a translator of Indonesian fiction and poetry. She loves working with Norman Erikson Pasaribu. She also writes novels and is currently finishing the third book of a fantasy trilogy that she is pretty sure no one is waiting for. But she doesn’t care.