‘What we leave behind’: opening of the 2015 Clean-up Calendar by Frouke Arns


On 1 May, during a very pleasant ‘tidy party’, city poet Frouke Arns opened the 2015 clean-up calendar of Actie Schone Waal. She personally recited the poem ‘What we leave behind’ on the Waal beaches and we publish it below.

Action Clean Waal is an initiative of the Walk of Wisdom to keep one of the most beautiful places in Nijmegen clean of litter: the Waal beaches of the Stadswaard nature reserve. The beaches are located at the beginning of the route and Nijmegen residents can sign up from May 1 to keep them clean via the online calendar of http://actieschonewaal.nl.

Below is the poem by Frouke Arns. Thanks to Staatsbosbeheer for the hospitality and Free Nature for the wilderness meat at BBQ and drinks. Albert Heijn sponsored baguettes and spreads, Manja Bente and daughter Hannah made the eggplant snacks for the vegetarians.


What we leave behind


I can still see you cycling on the dike that runs the river

In all its slowness, rattling crate followed

Hop on the back, cigarette butt in your mouth. Here were

We are among curious cows and pies

on white sand so surprisingly close to the city.


Skinny with the cheeky buttocks, your name fit like a glove

around your lithe body when you are up to the knees

in the water, your joint holding a torch in your hand

while you quoted some philosopher and I

the weather gods on my guitar were in favor.


Night water listens closely in the dark, you said later

When the beer was finished and we saw the lights of the barges

waved goodbye with grand gestures all the way to the brickworks,

night water. I visited our beach, Skinny

everything is still the same as it was then, the cows, the pies, the clouds,


De Waal, only you went under in life. Around

the traces of those who came after us: cans, bottles,

dirty diapers, skewers, cigarette butts, plastic, flags, a fire

that no longer burns, bikini top dangling from a branch;

I look downstream, always downstream.



© Frouke Arns