Monday, 16 November 2009

From: 'In Nomine' by the Danish poet Klaus Høeck

There is no way of shortening this extract.
Klaus Høeck paints huge canvases.
This is just a tiny part (pp. 110-117) of his wonderful book.
For the entire text go to here.

‘memory with variations’

        my other root reach
es deeper down than holmen
        cemetery deep
        er than the rose that
i have just planted this last
        autumn in the name
        of omar khayyam
deeper even than meta
        physics and sili
        cates right down to the
heavens is how far its lov
        ing kindness reaches

        memory can be
come recollection become
        a whole series of
        years that cannot be
distinguished from each other
        on the grid of the
        calendar no mat
ter how much i attempted
        to wipe the pane clean
        so as to gain a
final glimpse of my mother
        out there in the dark

        my mother rose a
gain for a instant when i
        opened a bottle
        of polish alco
hol which was from her life
        time (spirytus rek
like a delayed heirloom my
        mother rose again
        like the genie of
the lamp from ninety six per
        cent pure alcohol

        but when i discov
ered the black spots (thrips from last
        year) behind the glass
        which covered the por
trait of my mother (taken
        by mydtskov) i was
        suddenly afraid
that nothing remains of
        the dead though that
        did not call the ex
istence of god into ques
        tion in any way

        memory can be
come recollection can be
        broken into bits
        and pieces by the
chimes of the clock from pade
        sø church a late de
        cember day no mat
ter how much i attempted
        to retain my moth
        er’s image as one
true unity among the
        sundays of advent

        my mother was born
and grew up on amager
        near artillery
        road - i do not know
much myself about that is
        land’s lanterns and fog
        horns (i refer to
rifbjerg’s poems) but i stand
        nevertheless despite
        all this with my one
leg firmly planted in a
        marcadian soil

        her childhood passed to
put it briefly like any
        other childhood sur
        rounded by the heart’s
willow scrub - no not complete
        ly like childhood for
        all of her brothers
died either of volvulus
        or of the black i
        vy of tubercu
losis up at the coast hos
        pital at refsnæs

        my mother has be
come an evening walk down by
        the sea a sharp smell
        of iodine in
the sinuses a bank of
        clouds moving westwards
        become a stab in
the heart with a knitting need
        le an english trans
        lation in anoth
er book which as yet only
        exists on paper

        my mother has be
come a rococo chair with
        canvas embroider
        y of yellow ro
ses embroidered by herself
        or has become a
        bell-pull with the words
‘happy christmas’ in cross-stitch
        my mother has be
        come a bottle of
pectin become kitchen salt
        a raging winter

        my mother has be
come three glasses of jim bean
        brand bourbon whisky
        a pinch of lemon
verbena and an open
        sandwich with smoked ha
        libut and pepper
one late evening when i put
        memory to the
        test empty memo
ry’s and midnight’s wicker bas
        ket full of seaweed

        and memory ad
vances stealthily on stock
        inged feet in its sharp
        smell of clementines
and brine ‘can you remember
        can you remember’
        it whispers with a
voice mysterious and draped
        in crape - ‘yes i clear
        ly remember you
and your seven league boots with
        holes in’ i answer

        and oblivion
sneaks in like a thief in the
        night with its shoes on
        backwards ‘have you for
gotten have you forgotten’
        it whispers with sil
        very voice - ‘yes i’d
almost forgotten you and
        your moth-eaten ta
        ble runner hiding
at the back of the linen
        closet’ i admit

        i assume that my
mother had a post mortem
        done on her just as
        elegant as a
cut by lucio fonta
        na that her heart and
        her kidneys have been
examined much more closely
        than her conscience has
        been that she was not
stuffed with cotton wool and tow
        and forgetmenots

        my mother has be
come three shovelfuls of earth
        an urn of ashes
        mixed with white roses
become three millimetres
        of hoar frost on the
        grass at holmen cem
etery become a look
        full of wild dreams be
        neath the snow showers be
come the last seven words in
        this poem by me

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