Kathryn Pentecost: Baby Elephants (Babyolifanten)

Kathryn Pentecost reading ‘Baby Elephants’

Je bent dikker
Said my aunty
Je bent dikker
Like your mum
Je bent dikker
Since I saw you
Outside of Rotterdam
Je bent dikker
She’s an elephant
A little bit like you
Je bent dikker
It’s Australia
That’s made you fat, you two!
Je bent dikker
Than expected
What do you think of that?
Je bent dikker
For a woman
Who wasn’t usually fat
Je bent dikker
I’ve stayed slim
By smoking cigarettes
Je bent dikker
Than in the Indies
If we all still lived there yet
Je bent dikker
It’s the food here –
Hot chips and all those pies
Je bent dikker
In these mountains
I’d never thought of flies
Je bent dikker
You are pasty
The sun is much too weak
Je bent dikker
Not like Java
Forgive me, alsjeblieft
Je bent dikker
In the country
Than if you lived in town
Je bent dikker
Did I tell you?
Does it ever get you down?
Je bent dikker
Said my aunty
Dikker, dikker – much too fat!
Je bent dikker
You and Myrlie
Eating much too much of that!
Je bent dikker
Did I say?
Nothing lekker is for you!
Je bent dikker
It’s my custom
To tell you what is true
Je bent dikker
Like the others
The van der Poels at home
Je bent dikker
It’s so grappig
That this is a fat poem!


Je bent dicker – You’re fatter
alsjeblieft – sorry
lekker – nice, tasty or yummy
grappig – funny or humorous

Kathryn Pentecost is a graduate of Charles Sturt University (NSW) and the University of South Australia. In 2014, she was awarded a doctorate for her PhD thesis which explored family history in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies). Her large and complex ‘van der Poel’ clan from the Indies spoke many different languages, and her poem explores the connection and disjuncture (in a humorous way) between family members who were separated geographically after World War II and the Indonesian independence. Kathryn currently writes for The Indo Project – whose community identify as ‘Indo’ (including various combinations of European and Indonesian languages and cultures).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s