Tuesday 14 August 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Rolf Jacobsen (1907-94)


The city’s metaphysics

Under the street gutter gratings,
under the musty brick basements,
under moist roots of the lindentree avenues
and park lawns:

The nerve fibres of telephone cables.
the hollow veins of the gas pipes.

From the sky-high human alps of the east
from behind their spirea the town-house fronts of the west
the same invisible links of iron and copper
connect us together.

No one can can hear the telephone cables’ crackling life.
No one can hear the gas pipes’ sick coughing down in the depths.

No one can hear the sewers thunder with sludge and stench
                                                      hundreds of miles in the dark.

The city’s iron-clad intestines
are at work.

But up in the daylight there you’re dancing with flaming
footsoles over the asphalt, and you’ve silk against the white eye
of your navel and a new coat in the sunshine

Somewhere up there in the light I too stand and see how
the cigarette’s blue soul flutters like some chaste angel
through the chestnut’s leaves up towards eternal life.

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