Goodbye Stranger

From BBC Global Perspective Documentary Archive:

Every year up to 20 people die completely alone in Amsterdam. There are no friends or family to prepare their funeral or mourn over the body. Sometimes these people are illegal migrants, drug mules, or simply people who for one reason or another, cut off all social contacts.

A civil servant and a poet come together in their shared determination that those who die alone have a respectful and personal funeral.
For 20 years Ger Frits has chosen music to play at what have become known as “lonely funerals”. He puts flowers on the coffin and accompanies each person to their final resting place.

A few years ago, Amsterdam poet Frank Starik decided that these people also deserved to be eulogized, and after some reluctance Frits agreed… (read more here)

I transcribed one of the poems from the podcast, written by Amsterdam poet Frank Starik:

Goodbye stranger,
I say goodbye
on the road to nowhere
to the final country where everyone is welcomed in
where no-one need know your origin
Farewell sir, without papers, without identity
what were you looking for
how much did you lose along the way
who stares through the empty window, waits,
nameless man, wait while I entrust my empty words to this empty room

I am too late
You, I never knew

Who heard the voice calling out for you,
to come on home
to the final haven, Amsterdam


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