Monday, 14 September 2020

Torild Wardenær: 'Velde' (XVI-XIX)



Mauled, and at one with the belly of the night 


It is jónsvaka, the Wake of St. John,

the cells crackle,

in the sky

a hungry moon rises. 


What was this credo once again,

this pledge?

Oh yes: Be bold! Do that which is good!


I come forward,

willing to sign this humanistic manifesto, but

40 billion cells in a 1.2 kg brain weigh down

my body reels under the weight,

and the cells’ fireworks sparkle so strongly that

I am blinded, have to sign with a shaky pen, and

before the letters of my surname have been scrawled down,

the voracious moon casts itself over me, eats me raw,

camouflages me, mauled, and at one with the belly of the night





In the annals of the avian order


In an article in ‘Science’ I read that sleep repairs the Schwann cells.

I then sleep, and dream that I am eating a handful of the red berries from

the Manzanita bush.

Although the berries are not known to have a hallucinogenic effect, I see a

concubine. She hangs up one silk screen after the other with painted

landscapes on them: jagged mountain ranges, bays, cherry blossoms,

circling birds.


On the banks of one of the azure lakes a crow is flapping in distress.

It pecks me on the wrist when I straighten out the crooked wing,

feed it with a piece of bacon. Then it rises into the air, and the silk rustles.


While I’m still asleep, the crow sits somewhere where I can’t see it.

It observes me, notes my white countenance, memorises

my hand and the piece of bacon.

It places me among those incapable of flying, and thus low down in its hierarchy.

But with three authoritative caws I am nevertheless inscribed in the annals of

the avian order.





My Norse name has attracted two ravens to it 


My Norse name has attracted two ravens to it.

They settle, one on either shoulder.

Their beaks crush calcium to dust while they caw

about the black holds of the universe, and the barren north side

of a limestone mountain.


They blind time with their jet-black plumage,

crap on all they come across: eye cavity and cranium, script and flesh.

They crunch away at text upon text – a poem from 1994, reminder lists

and user manuals.

An X-ray report from 2007 is torn to shreds, but I manage to read:

Normal bone structure. Beak-shaped acromion.

Somewhat reduced AC joint with slight ossifications,

subchondral sclerosis.


The birds clearly have something to do with this pathology.

They sit heavily on my shoulders, know most things, but

not if my skeleton in the future, painstakingly excavated

with archaeological spoons, is to be dated with the aid of the C14 method,

Nor if the world history of this body is to be noted down at some point.

Nor do they know if language will end up failing badly, will be too late

out, and simply babble away about lyrebirds or a sunken Atlantis.





Password II


The mussels, what about them, long-since consumed,

the finches, with their triangular beaks,

Felix, the black Labrador from 1981,

and the mongrel Piffi, who guards the house in Snorre’s Lane,

the nameless cat that got lost in January, the great spotted woodpeckers,

the tenderness for the dun horse,

the tireless hamster in the wheel,

the eagles above the island on Easter Day,

the orange cardinal in the lemon tree,

a northern mocking bird in Tom’s garden,

white herons in Bavaria,

all the chickens I have eaten, the salmon, the trout,

once in fish pens, in cages, in mountain lakes,

all the humble vegetables,

the unassuming sunflower seeds and blood-red pomegranates,

all that has lived and lives.


If a line simply long enough is given to anchor everything to language,

it could strike a wavelength where violins would drive it further forward,

perhaps in towards a password, towards what is not uncovered in the text,

scarcely readable as it is on the computer screen or this book page,

sheet upon sheet of paper,

the paper: once a tree in the forest, first silent, now a medium, and the violins,

they too once trees in the forest, inarticulate then, but

now tuning towards oscillations that will gather

into writing or cantatas or an atmospheric phenomenon,

or just disappear into an immense sky,


the sky, the very pensioner that only lets a fraction of all the accumulated

wealth sift down over us – rain, light, ions,

the sky that lets the unbridled clouds vaporise from the sea,


the sea, which everything is dependent on now, and where cusk and sea horses fight,

side by side, in the great battle for the future. 

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