Tuesday 10 September 2013

Poem by the Danish writer
Pia Tafdrup


Walk from the becalmed centre of the town to the strong harbour wind,
down to the quay and the smell of tar, out onto the jetty to the tall lighthouse
I can see at night when I am torn from my sleep by unknown sounds,
like the skin of a fish is ripped off at one tug
after the head has been cut off with a squelch and thrown away.

Like an invasion from an unknown planet
sea wrack lies washed up on the shore, stinking, bluish-black
in foam-marbled sand between scattered rocks,
a thick rind of extinguished life, a defeated phalanx
dried out and mummified by the sun.

Along the quay and the jetty men are pulling nets up out of the water
and lowering them again in bails with creaking metal wires,
in an afternoon fathers teach sons to fish with these nets
which, domed, like inverted parachutes in single lever racks
are fixed to the quay or pulled out onto the jetty in light carts.

Small fish that flap like autumn leaves in the strong wind
are collected up from the nets and thrown back into the sea,
clusters of small children play in the sand or on a floating dock,
from which they launch their boats with paper sails
laden with hopes of reaching unknown land.

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