Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A poem by the Norwegian writer Thor Sørheim


When I look at the photograph of my father
sitting slightly sprawled out on a bench in the back garden
he grew up in, a place I often visit
so as to walk in the same streets, study the erect
frontages and stroll in the inlaid parks he used to play in,

it strikes me that the young boy with the mop of
blond hair and the bright eyes must have been a dreamer.
A stranger maybe in this neighbourhood where gangs
stood on every street corner ready to intervene
if anyone dared venture across invisible borders.

Borders that I do not know, but he perhaps
did. In the yellowing picture I have seen of him his
gaze betrays nothing of how streetwise he was.
On the contrary, he is looking towards something far off,
perhaps the kitchen window on the third floor, or Ekeberg Hill.

To look at the photo of my father from the time he was a paperboy
reminds me that he was the one who taught me
to cross the street diagonally, at full pelt towards the traffic.
This gave those driving in the next lane a bit more time
to brake, so as not to attack us from behind.

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