Saturday, 6 March 2010

Section from Klaus Høeck's 'In Nomine'

               ‘i will dwell in my name’

     night rain once again
after the long dry spell in
     the month of july
     for a long time i
lie listening to the drum
     ming on the tin roof
     will it fertilise
my own roots deep down there
     in the dark will the
     drops fall over the
forgotten grave of my fa
     ther in birkerød?

     today i array
myself in a white shirt and
     a silken tie i
     begin to search for
a document at the back
     of the drawer of
     the writing desk it
seems to me that my hands have
     a smell of forma
     lin about them i
look up from my poems and
     thirty years have passed

     the sky has been rent
by light and the dark congealed
     at the bottom of
     yesterday’s coffee
cups i am looking at that
     pen-and-ink drawing
     of my father with
the seven black pine trees that
     hangs out in the hall
     how on earth am i
to remember what even
     he had forgotten?

     like the vast fields of
roses up behind the em
     bankments near bogen
     se like a single
quartet movement – allegro
     assai for exam
     ple like overheat
ed aluminium or
     like a thin drizzle
     is the secret life
that i never lived toge
     ther with my father

     i sleep with my head
facing north as in fairy
     tales and i dream
     almost allegor
ically of salt and of
     the larch boletus
     before waking at
your sharp scent of ascorbic
     acid my love – per
     haps it is an act
of treachery to be so
     utterly happy?

     time flies past on the
wings of a buzzard in ac
     ross the garden so
     swiftly that it is
only this morning that i
     discover the chan
     ges and notice that
i have come to resemble
     my father as he
     was on the final
photograph taken of him
     all that time ago

     i take back my name
i retake in the liter
     al sense of the word
     its dark syllables
of iron and of emerald
     after almost for
     ty years in exile
sign with my baptismal name
     once more i transform
     myself into who
i am closer i’ll never
     get to my father

     i practise in the
utmost secrecy writing
     it down in chinese
     notebooks that have red
corners and are dog-eared i
     whisper my name in
     great confidenti
ality once more as i
     used to do in my
     childhood when it was
embroidered on all my li
     nen and my washing

     i will dwell in that
name i have received by the
     grace of god and not
     by it being grant
ed with the royal seal of
     frederik the ninth
     i will make my a
bode in the name i one day
     will die in and clo
     ser i’ll never get
to a reconcilia
     tion with my father

     my father in ti
voli at the palladi
     um and in vester
     brogade my fa
ther in köthen-anhalt my
     father’s black dachshund
     his royal enfield and
toyota my father’s kid
     ney stone my father
     at the piano
in holsteinsgade: quasi
     una fantasia

     why did my father
spend his time in germany
     during the war why
     did he send me a
subscription to B.T. in
     my time at school why
     did he not come to
my confirmation why did
     he hide bottles of
     port in the cistern
why did he die without giv
     ing any answers?

     i never knew my
father have only heard a
     bout him and seen him
     from time to time (with
such a shaky hand that the
     spanish coffee ser
     vice still clatters in
my head still spins round on its
     bamboo pole in the
     chinese circus of
the memory) only met
     him from time to time

     like some parricide
i had turned my memory
     into a secret
     and inaccessi
ble place where my father lived
     alone with his shame
     his silk embroidered
eagle on the reverse side
     of his lapel or
     was all of it no
thing else than lies and poe
     tic fabrication?

     my inheritance
from my father amounts as
     far as i can as
     certain and recall
thirty years after his death
     to astigmati
     sm of the left eye
a certain melancholy
     a surname and a
     share in a summer
cottage near rørvig strand one
     that’s been sold long since

     did my father real
ly marry no less than five
     times is it true that
     he pawned my christen
ing present (a spoon of hall
     marked silver with bite
     marks on it from my
milk teeth) is he really to
     blame is his absence
     to blame for the fact
i have been seeking god (the
     father) ever since?

     birkerød ceme
tery is beautiful on
     such a late autumn
     day red with rust and
brick as if it lay partial
     ly hidden in a
     sonnet cycle but
i found neither my father
     nor his grave here nor
     his ghost of turquoise
could it be he had simply
     never existed?

     nor up at the gen
eral registry under the
     neon lighting was
     his name to be found
in violet ink in the
     city records where
     the accounts are kept
my father had disappeared
     without trace and i
     myself was the on
ly evidence that he had
     ever existed

     it shot through the roots
of my family tree like
     lightning from an un
     derground storm or the
pain from root surgery at
     the dentist’s or like
     st elmo’s fire from
søllerød cemetery
     where i at long last
     had managed to trace
my family’s and father’s
     final resting place

     and a great recon
ciliation took place as
     my father rose with
     in me like an x
ray photo dark with night-time
     rain and alumin
     ium and the small
bitterness dissolved like salt
     in my blood like a
     thimble of hemlock
juice that’s emptied into the
     sea and disappears

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