Wednesday 31 July 2019

Henrik Nordbrandt: 'Sea Dragon' - Part III



On far too bright days in January
the talk once more is of everything else.

What fun it was
to be desperate
when one was young!

Sometimes one happens to say ‘I’
and regrets it for years afterwards.


When I woke up, the lid was back in place
on the large black cauldron
and all that was left
of the cannibals
was the echo of their exotic name.

The bookmark stuck out of the book on the bedside table
at precisely the right place
and when I stuck my feet out of bed
I saw that my shoelaces
were correctly in place in my shoes.
And my socks lay right next to them.

There was no crocodile under the bed
and the spider
that had been lying in wait behind the door
had gone away.

My head and my arms
had not been placed
in separate
black plastic bags.
They were firmly fixed to my body.

I could move without bleeding.
I didn’t even have
a stomach ache.

On the kitchen table there was a coffee maker
an ordinary coffee maker
in the morning sun that percolated in
through the flower-patterned curtains.

They were in need of a wash.
It looked like
it was mid-April.

When the water boiled
the house sounded so empty.

All those I had loved

were long since dead.


Drop me, my friends!
I’m not worth my
own shoelaces.

Let go of me and let me fall

to where I’ve always been
in spite of everything.

Don’t let me lie rotting
up here in the open air

where a cloud could catch sight of me
and have

its golden evening over the sea ruined.


Snowdrops! What do you
do for the rest of the year?
I would like to too.

A very strange light
that’s half spring and half autumn
half in view, half me.

I can’t be bothered
Not one more year. I’d rather
have a hundred springs.

Such is self-pity: 
A mollusc with tiger’s claws
deep within its heart.

The happy ones there.
The frightful ones here. Passing
me myself en route.


It happened that year
that my birthday fell
on ‘The Day of World Poetry’
which was also celebrated
at the World’s Centre, in Delphi
to which I
had also been invited.

It was all too much!
I took to my bed
instead of making the journey.

If I had come to Delphi
I would have not been me
and therefore I
would not have been invited either.

So much for that birthday.

So much for that year.


I held the speech.
The others held their noses.
I didn’t know any of them.
From the expressions on their faces
I could see they all knew me.

Beneath the wreaths of flowers
the body lay
wrapped in a black rug.
You could sense
that it had been sort of flattened
and that it was
about to spread out.

The speech was without words. A dry cough
stopped me
each time I began.

Outside the dream
it would have been interpreted
as meaning it was my own
funeral I was attending.

But there was nothing outside.
From the window
I could see the parking lot.
It was raining
and the sun shone through the rain.

So there would be rainy weather again
within three days.

That’s what people would say when I was a child.

So much for that.


A real Danish summer is to be the theme of this sonnet:
For it to be really right, what surrounds one mustn’t be said
in thirteen or fifteen lines, but in fourteen: that in my opinion
is how it all falls into place, so form and content become one
in the same way that I am at one with the summer
which is at one with Danishness
which is really really right: But this poem wouldn’t be so
unless it pointed out that no one can be at one with anything else.
There’s got to be room: A real Danish summer
is probably where I could best do without myself.
And I would gladly let nature speak for me, if the vulgar greenness
hadn’t made it all too embarrassing:
In its midst there’s a tall red chimney: It belongs to the crematorium.
What a consolation at long last to be free of oneself!


It’s too late in the year to be outside
but I’m sitting outside
in the twilight, on the bank of a stream.

I’m also too old to be me
but I am me
because I’m saying what I say.

On the bed of the stream dry leaves rustle.
Above the twilight
the sky is red like a parrot’s breast.


The sunlight there outside is just as bright
as it is dark as night here and as bleak.
Above the narrow yard a glass-shard’s light
flares on the battlement. Like the far peak

all of my travels dearly would attain,
extinguished, like their final mirrored sign.
I always end up here. My strength has waned,
I cannot carry on. The fault is mine:

This hotel is the stuff of all my dreams.
I’m my own guest, the lowest of the low
and the poor landlord who burst into screams

and slammed the door. That I myself best know 
as chalk-white there as it is pitch-black here.
And you are far away! Farewell, my dear!

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