Last week I received a long, rambling letter from Cerebrus Platvis, the famous Dutch poet. It feels like ages since I last heard from him and by the looks of it things haven’t been going great.

Nearly twenty pages long, written on paper that looks like it was crumpled up and then re-used, some of it stained with huge blotches of ketchup or perhaps curry, full of convoluted diagrams, arrows that point nowhere and emphatic exclamation marks, it is nothing like his usual measured work. I fear he must be losing his mind or has already lost it.

Much of the letter, if that is what it is, is hard to decipher. Some parts seem (intentionally?) smudged beyond recognition, others so hastily scrawled that they’re barely readable. The parts that can be read do not seem to connect into any coherent whole.

In one of the corners on sheet VI, as I’ve numbered them, there is a little poem, in simple, almost childlike writing. It reads:

“Ach,” riep het laken
dat met vlekken was besmeurd
en daar zo’n beetje bij hing
in beter dagen wit gekleurd

Een hond begon te janken
en er klonk een droge snik
Het laken haalde adem
“Het spook”, sprak het, “ben ik”

It will take some time to study and catalog the document in its entirety. But I feel that in sending it he meant to tell me something, and if it doesn’t mean anything to me, perhaps I can find out what it meant to him.