LITTLE WILLEM IN AUSTRALIA
By our grandson Willem, who is four years old now
a certain corner in the garden has been called
Why, that is not clear. It is a spot where the rhubarb grows
and where a mulberry tree stands which birds are fond of,
certainly when it is summer and the berries are ripe and black
and juicy and sweet. Some flowerpots stand there,
a zinc bucket, a leaky watering-can, and an old window frame.
Sometimes you find daddy-longlegs there or some wood-lice,
but I think that part of the garden is not a bit like
From the moment little Willem knew he is going to live
The bedside stories I tell him must often be situated in
His pet is a soft, light blue kangaroo. Granddad Wim, he says,
tell me a story about
which are doing things and play at leap-frog.
They are joined by grasshoppers which can jump
higher then everybody else as they just fly over the kangaroos.
It is dead easy for them. They have red wings.
From time to time a huge salt water crocodile
rises up from an orange river to devour
an innocent poor little kangaroo. That is fearful.
Willem can accept this, but he does not like bushfires.
Okay, he says, crocodiles are allowed but no bushfires, Granddad.
This said, even the teeniest of tiny fires or even a walking match-stick
are absolutely forbidden to enter the story. Not even when a dark
little rain cloud appears in the clear blue Australian sky.
Or when an elephant is coming with its useful long snout.
But with that elephant element Willem does not agree.
Elephants are certainly not residents of
At the end of the story I put all the kangaroos in a circle
around a non-burning campfire. It does not even smoke
and it is not worthy to carry the name of campfire.
The kangaroos start singing a polyphony kangaroo campfire chant
Under the light of a promising Australian moon.
After that Willem will go to sleep quietly.
And his Dreamland will probably resemble his
Far and vague is the land
that is called
Its nights are green and its moon is blue.
Don’t think that I shall forget you.