Friday, 26 February 2016

Tove Ditlevsen - 'Ægteskab'


In re-remembered passion,
roused by a reminder of other embraces,
a distant contact with a cool skin,
the dreaming profile of an unknown woman
against the city’s neon lights –
or perhaps:
at the sight of a young soldier in the train
with bright eyes, in whose calm he saw
a quite simple mind reflect his own
and fling it back undigested,
with all its mysterious maturity –
his senses turn searchingly towards me,
veiled by a dark urge to deceive.
And I, who completely inhabit this house,
fertilise the dust with a frail thought
of own life, and daily kneel,
lost in vague prayers, at the yellow-enamelled
and silent fidelity of a bucket –
covertly consider his secret face,
suddenly naked, almost defenceless
as when nature reconquers deserted gardens:
just a glimpse of an irascible tenderness,
stunted, secretly extorted a legal
death of love for no obvious reason.
I see it go away, and recall other caresses
of nameless sweetness, possibly his once,
but never more arousing my desire
in other than the memory, never more.
Without words we deny, vindictively, alone,
each other’s capacity to rouse sensual desire.

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