Monday 11 June 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Jan Erik Vold

Pine cone song

Who’d like to hear
pine cone song? Yes for pine cone song
is a song for the other race
of things, the friendly small, often disregarded
people and things, maligned
unmentioned, a small ineffectual blow for the bike-repair men
milkmaids single socks
small screws, the unsuccessful
sex and all the country’s pine cones scattered around
in the grass, yes – for I like pine cones,
I like pine cones better
than fir cones, fir cones are smooth and hang there,
streamlined, they remind you of
heavy things, things that will fall, genitals and
smooth administration, pine cones
remind you of bark boats, fishing floats and small
genitals, like those of old
men – or after a quick dip, pine cones’ somewhat sprawly scales
lie like roof-tiles on old houses where people
have lived a long time and don’t intend to lay a new
roof, not in their lifetime, scanty
fishermen’s huts, wrinkles round eyes that have seen much
but stayed alive, I like bark on trees, its lack
of pattern, flagpoles that are not
freshly painted, bus shelters
where loving couples have carved their names, these hearts
with plus signs in it and the simplest
addition, ours had been erased
last time I looked (but am no longer
quite sure on which tree
it actually was), I didn’t use a knife only red
pencil and that won’t last
very long, no, I like
winding gravel paths that might be dead-ends, gardeners
with simple faces as one passes
their vegetable plots, dandelions – and the dandelion
when it’s become a white puff-ball to be blown empty of
parachute troops as we called it, Harald Sverdrup
has written a fine poem
about the dandelion, I like
Harald Sverdrup, he’s got such a fine head, once
I asked if I could touch it, had wanted to
for a long time, and was told
I could, only Tarjei
can rival that skull (I’ve never
dared ask), yes, I like
old tyres in fields and cartwheels leaning
against roadside poles, so many strange things there are
in the world, there are days when it’s not far-fetched
to think of the world as an old
attic, with mahogany boxes containing counter-games no one
knows the rules of any more, with small keys on ribbons
next to them, or the keys lost and the lock
broken open, postcards
with the best Christmas and New Year greetings
from the turn of the century and old love-letters
and evidence, now they’ve moved, all of them, Agnes
and so on, moved into their own houses and shut the door
carefully after them, you should never
keep old letters, people say, I say Agree
or Disagree, if they’re gone well they’re gone, but if they’re there,
well, then they’re there, with their era and their language, that too
is reality, throw them away or keep them – what’s the difference?
it’s nicer to go around with less past, you say – yes! and
less past means fewer images, I say – yes, indeed! and fewer images
is a bit less exciting
in the long run, so
there you are, consider the rose
how beautiful it is when it stands there with pearls of rain
on its rose-red petals, they’re just outside the window, now
the sun’s shining but the rose in rain
is most beautiful, the rose just after
rain, then you can unfold them layer by layer, no one will stop you
doing that, and every petal is moist, right down
to the yellow farthest in, but not
exactly like that today, for today the rose is pale and dry
and past flowering, the yellow in there’s
a crater now, a dresden, the petals round it
have been shed most of them, you can see the whole world
in the gleam of a rose-petal if you place
your eye close enough, it’s no more difficult
than that, and at night
the white clover stands gleaming like planets
in the dark grass and during the day we go barefoot and find
pine cones, I found this pine cone
I brought in with me. It is so light, so
small, so helplessly
weightless, each scale lights up like quite happy faces
at a smallish workplace where there’s a cosy
atmosphere, a country knitwear shop, a capital-city
small-prints office – yes! the poet
has found yet another argument
for the pine cone (as against the fir cone) (if this is
the right place for arguments): With pine cones
there’s no cone-war – for although cone-wars
were great fun once, I don’t really know
if I think the same today, not for me – no matter the slogans
and arguments (yes, no matter if I accidentally
should have weighed in too heavily
against the fir cone, it has a perfect right to be there
too, to have its own life, it’s better to have cones
in fir trees that fir trees without cones – sure
sure but even so), I know
there’s something about pine cones
that fir cones will never have. I see it more clearly
year by year. Therefore this pine cone
on my table. Yes.

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