Milla van der Have – Three Poems

Deserted Chapel

There are numerous ruins
but you chose to rest against this one.
Maybe because of the cold that somehow still lingers
or else because of the singular story
that has attached itself to these overgrown
walls (two lovers, same old doom).

Summer’s been laid to rest.
All the colors fold themselves into a new esthetic
one you’re fully unaware of.

Just like in church when you asked your mother
what the meaning was of all of it
and you didn’t see the rose on the casket.

It was yellow and you were three
and there was nothing yet you didn’t know.

The Meaning of Kilda

So many names, so many meanings
and she escapes them all. Her love

is like the current, bounding off
as she pleases. I stand and watch

the last boat sail, quiet as the fulmar
takes wing. No one ever leaves

St. Kilda, not really.
Her rocks etch their way

into your thoughts, her storms
sing in your ear wherever you turn.

And on nights as deep and full as this
with only the stirrings of the past for company,

I venture back to where it started: the heavens
a blank, the sea a crumpled yellow map

and everything else for the taking.

We Lay Our Alms at Aamos Kirk

The old ground speaks in riddles still.
Keel-stones abound to remind us
of drowning and the mysteries
of daily life. We lay

our alms, ask for deliverance. Once
we had our hands enfolded in
rich stones, in promises of earth
and faith to come.

But stories wash out of deep water like dreams.
You can follow them and end up
where you started.

A boat-shaped hollow
a saint in need of wonder
a long voyage home.

Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty, for me, is an elusive thing. You know it when you see it, yet you don’t always know when you will see it. It can hide in plain sight, in the most common things. Early mist rising from the fields for instance or the sound of a boat tugging on its rope or leaves of a tree rushing in the wind, playing with the light of the sun. Then again it can lurk in unexpected places, suddenly striking out from the pages of a book, from lines of poetry, taking you by surprise. That kind of beauty, the profound, transcendental kind, is especially hard to predict and even harder to describe. It escapes definition in the same manner a cat sometimes slinks out from underneath your touch. That’s where poetry comes in.

I see poetry as our ultimate endeavour to describe those things that transcend language, of which beauty is one of the foremost occurrences. Poetry tries to lift the veil, to give us a new view on the beyond. But the only way to do that is to create a new veil, a different veil. For to describe beauty is to diminish it. It’s like trying to admire a flower by picking its petals and ordering them. It doesn’t work like that. The same goes for poetry. The beauty it tries to describe, escapes description and therefore the poem has to create beauty and in trying to solve the riddle, add to it.

Milla van der Have (1975) wrote her first poem at 16, during a physics class. She has been writing ever since. One of her short stories won a New Millennium Fiction Award. In 2015 she published Ghosts of Old Virginny, a chapbook of poems about Virginia City. Milla lives and works in Utrecht, The Netherlands. More at: