9 Between Christmas and New Year
10 January 1999
11 From Bird Hill
12 Elder Sleep
13 From a Valley in a Valley
16 Without Inscription
20 Memorandum from the Kosovo War
21 The Rain
22 Cehennem ve Cennet
23 Esbern Snare
27 14 Hours
33 The Shell-House Remembered
37 The Thoughtful Child
38 The View from the Rampart Dwellings
39 The Golden Bird
45 Soft Toys
47 On Toftegård Square
49 Out Dining in the Posher Part of the Suburbs
50 Appeal to Plumbers
51 On the Pros and Cons of Life
52 Own Ghost
53 View with padlock
57 Apple Core
60 The Blue Shed
65 Behind the Dike
66 Late April
67 Portrait of the Heroine, far out at Sea
68 The Barge
69 August View
70 Notes from a Summer
71 Offshore Wind
BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR
Between Christmas and New Year
there is practically nothing.
It can almost be
in an ordinary, black handbag
of the kind midwives use
my mother used to say.
But I don’t know if that sort of logic
is applicable nowadays.
It doesn’t matter if you forget the bag.
There’s nobody, after all, who wants to have it.
Next year at the same time it’s there again
on the bench on the platform.
Nobody sits down next to it.
That’s the way it is between Christmas and New Year.
It’s a bit different, of course,
if it’s just snowed
and there’s a little snow on the top of the bag
and you can imagine
a train pulling in
out of the twilight.
That, then, is what the bag looks like.
It’s yours. Take it!
My mother won’t let on.
This time it was farther up
than you could really say it was down.
It felt like before early
and later than latest.
The air was an air bluer than blue
and it was almost more beautiful
than it really was terrible
if you can say that.
In short, it was before me
but most strangely as I had been long since.
January, they said. The sun came out
and caused the snow to slide down the statues.
In the air, gold shone on verdigris.
Behind lay the sea, and everything
they even so could never have taught me to say.
FROM BIRD HILL
That which bleeds only hurts later:
That which flowers
pulls up by the root:
The plum tree at the lake’s edge stares
at a fallen regiment.
The cut freesias in the steel beaker
smell like the very soul
of the hospital bed.
An invisible amputation
accompanies visiting hours.
Pain is transferred
to a sense we knew nothing about.
Down from the earth the sharpest light
of the year now streams upwards
so we see each other for the first time
and look away.
Then come the long warm days
in sunlit fields
where you can walk for hours
and feel almost nothing.
The coolness of the woods
only reminds you
of the coolness of the woods.
Yesterday we were children, tomorrow nothing.
Just now the elder is in flower
You must keep yourself awake if your heart
is not to fly straight into its net.
It is even tempting to get lost in your own thoughts
among overgrown railway tracks
and dream of the terminus:
The stationmaster’s children are not a day older.
That ought to have made us suspicious.
Even so, we bought their ice-creams.
We knew a long, hot day lay ahead of us,
but not that their laughter would follow us.
At night you see someone you think you know
and then it is only that person’s dog
It is easier to find the way home than ever before
That is why we never go there any more.
FROM A VALLEY IN A VALLEY
It is as light as it is summer
it is as dark as it is me.
It is as before as it is after
and as late as it is always.
Summer goes from valley to valley.
The trees bend, darken and sigh
because they cannot keep up.
The white stone has sucked up so much light
that the light can now find nothing.
The lost years have left mother-of-pearl in the shadows.
I have no number for either my regrets
or those that died.
Tattered clouds cast chitin-hard shadows
over ivy and wall:
I think of the fact I must leave
and feel strangely elated.
It is as light as it is summer
and as late as it is always.
The most horrible thing that exists
Who would not like to die
as may-rain over lilacs
or wild carrot by the wayside?
Fanatics do not know
that they know this.
I fly through the January night
at a low height above snow-covered Europe
Cathedral after cathedral
casts its light across the snow:
Never have I seen
never so clearly.
When season and life coincide
yellow leaves fall into yellow sun.
Then it’s September
and soon spring.
A grave, empty, in the snow.
Only my deeds remain.
That is how I envisage
The meeting at the crossroads.
I came before I was there
and thus become myself.
Those I have hurt run like blood
in the black water of the ditches.
In the same way as when in May
the corollas sound like laughter
even though a single tear
blinds a whole, large forest of firs.
After the month of death comes that of resurrection:
February. In an ice-cold bathroom
you stand naked and with black wings.
The water refuses to run. The world refuses to turn.
The window can’t be opened. And the person
standing here only almost resembles you.
For you are defective. It’s the fault of the month.
It’s too short to complete anything.
Your wings won’t do, and you discover
to your horror that your arsehole’s missing
as a portent of something much, much worse.
The uniform is on a hanger behind the door
with instructions in the inner pocket.
That’s the price for escaping: Just
say you’re Napoleon and they’ll believe you.
For the rest of them are Napoleon, too.
MEMORANDUM FROM THE KOSOVO WAR
Down in the cellar I couldn’t see anything
on account of my sun-glasses
I discovered, when I finally took them off
and angrily flung them from me.
Now I’m sitting here and can’t see the sea properly
because I’ve got reading glasses on
and can’t read what I’m writing, either,
because the sun’s too strong.
Out of pure obstinacy I keep my reading glasses on.
and no power on earth
will get me to go down into the cellar for my sun-glasses!
That’s what my life’s like. What all human life’s like.
That’s how the war continues.
And because it’s raining
it’s never done anything else except rain.
There is actually
nothing else but rain
and all dreams
are about that fact that it’s raining.
And it’s my fault in particular
that it’s raining.
It’s my fault
because it’s my fault that I was born.
I was born because I lied
about the rain itself:
‘Suddenly the sun breaks through
and ignites a white gable.’
I once said.
That’s a lie.
That is why I was born
because it’s raining.
That’s how it’s raining.
So have all of you understood, then,
what I feel like in rainy weather?
CEHENNEM VE CENNET
Something fell down from the Universe
and made an enormous, deep hole
but there was nothing
inside the hole.
- So now they stand there every Sunday
and stare down into it
and, for the same reason,
call it Hell.
Next to it is another hole
and at the bottom of it
a small church
which you can get down to
via a staircase
and then look up out of the hole.
- So that hole
they call Paradise.
Since this morning
I’ve been lying in wait to take revenge
on the pigeon
that shat on my head.
it simply ignores.
I’ve thrown a stone at it
without hitting it.
The garden hose is too short.
It knows perfectly well
that I’m after it.
It also knows why
It’s sitting up there in its dovecote
playing the innocent
so it makes you want to puke.
Sooner or later, I’ll get it!
But, just think! I think to myself:
Just think if Harold Bluetooth
not to mention Esbern Snare
had read these words
what wouldn’t they have thought
The moral being
you should take good care of your country’s history
and be kind to animals.
Divide your friends up by to how much they bring in for you.
Tell them you love and admire them as often as you can
and give it the whole works.
They’ll only think: ‘No one can be that smarmy.
How could I ever have had such a thought!’
Don’t be afraid to give presents, either.
If you give them to the right people, you’ll get back twice over.
Avoid the poor and the persecuted
unless they have the world’s eyes on them.
If so, make common cause with them.
Use other people’s sufferings with no inhibitions.
The way you do your pictures
they can easily be seen as expressions of sympathy.
For your powers of persuasion are just as great
as your strokes are imprecise.
And don’t be afraid I’ll give your name away.
Everyone who knows you and has read this far
has already recognised you
as I know, at this moment, you see yourself.
The waiter radiates respect.
He hates me, because I speak his language.
If only I’d been a stupid
a stupid Englishman, a stupid German
a stupid Frenchman or a stupid Italian
he would have clapped me heartily on the back
and tried to cheat me.
But I am someone who speaks his language correctly
with an accent he cannot place
and who he therefore hates.
It gives him
the feeling that I know him
better than he does himself.
And he’s right about that. That’s why he hates me.
I take a sip of my beer, write
this and light a cigarette.
He’s there in a flash with an ashtray.
I thank him
and pass him the sports supplement from the newspaper
which he’s been eyeing for a long time
and ask him if he’d like to have it.
Of course he would!
At the same moment he’s taken it
he feels he’s been seen through
and hates me all the more.
If I had spoken without an accent
he would have thought that I was like him
only more fortunate.
He would have looked at me
as you look at a more fortunate brother
with a mixture of envy and admiration.
But my hint
of an accent inspires him with loathing.
He hates me.
If it hadn’t been a punishable offence,
he would have killed me.
I finish my beer, get up
acknowledge him with a cool nod
and leave him far too big a tip.
So that’s quite clear to him!
the temperature was 32°C in the shade of the house
where the women sat silently on a low bench
without needlework or anything else to busy their hands with.
the men gathered in a corner of the garden.
Most of them smoked but no one said anything.
some of the women began to scream.
A group of tourists out in the street
stopped to take a photograph.
the screams had become dirges.
It was incredible how many they knew by heart.
a white car came and left again with something
it had fetched from inside the house.
only a little boy was still in the garden.
And his stick and a dead rat.
the temperature was 41°C in the shade
of one of the garden’s two olive trees.
I asked the neighbour who it was that was dead
but didn’t quite catch the answer.
It was something about some-woman-or-other-in law.
I had never been all that good at families.
they washed the bed linen
and hung it up on the line between the two trees.
The rest of the evening
I wondered who it could have been.
I suddenly realised:
It was the one, of course, who hadn’t been with the others.
The last time it took longer to school
because my father nearly got both of us killed
when he fell asleep at the wheel.
It was at that moment
I remembered in a glimpse from reality
that I would have been given a warning
that this was the last time I would see him
if I hadn’t known that he was already dead.
‘That’s grammar for you,’ I thought
and I hadn’t even done my homework on it.
At these words my father woke up.
‘That’s never happened to me before,’
he said, ‘falling asleep at the wheel.’
His voice sounded ashamed.
I didn’t know what to say
so as not to offend
the old man who had once been so strong
fought in the war and commanded ships
I didn’t know how to behave
so as not to accidentally disclose
that he was now dead.
‘I’ve cheated,’ I said, ‘cheated at grammar’
and even more at arithmetic.
‘I bought crib sheets at the bookseller’s.
‘I know,’ he said.
‘So now you’ll just have to start from scratch.’
I jumped out the car and began to push.
It was uphill work multiplying the single-figures
and even more uphill doing the ten to twenty table.
The streams rushed stronger and stronger
the grass grew more and more green
the yellow flowers more and more yellow.
The log houses at the roadside
became more and more wood-like.
People lived by breeding roses.
They were kind and helped me push.
It was countryside neither of us had seen before
but which we both knew
since one of us was dead
and the other one his son.
It all went smoothly. We climbed above the timber line
where the school stood, tall as a mountain on top of the mountain
built of gleaming ice.
From the top of the school you could look down to the sea
where my father’s ship lay.
That’s how I learnt numbers and grammar.
All that was left after that was
to carve up the head teacher.
My old man fixed that
with the sabre I inherited from him.
Then I cut through the mooring.
THE SHELL-HOUSE REMEMBERED
Like most people I was born when there was a war on
and like most people I flew in dreams
enjoying my wings
out of the world of war into that of gardens
there where, among dark roses,
the full moon, the fountain and the unicorn
watch over each other’s inviolability.
Now dream and reality are approaching each other
as in the viewfinder of a camera:
The details are so sharply in focus
that the overall view is lost.
I turn my gaze away and know:
Like a flaring flashbulb I am to fix the breaks
between the World and me, the war that continues.
No matter whether I come from Zealand or Falster
I’m on my way home
when I travel over the Storstrøm Bridge.
Via the Storstrøm Bridge I travel
e.g. on this occasion
back to 1949 or 1950.
Even then my clothes seem strange to me
maybe because they are relics of the war
maybe because I’m looking at them in a mirror from 2000:
Plus-fours and knitted socks.
Everything is handmade, everything itches.
I cry, and the sight of my tears in the mirror
cause me to cry even more.
My grandma and grandpa are going home.
They’re on their way out. They’ve already
said goodbye to my mother and father.
The front door is open.
A wave of some strange cooking odour and old linoleum
surges in from the stairway.
My tears turn into a bellow.
Everyone looked strangely at me.
My grandma takes me up on her arm.
I can just go with them, she says.
She dries away my tears.
has red lipstick stains on it.
My mother and father nod.
They look relieved.
I’m a nuisance!
Suddenly it’s now them I’m going to have to miss.
My crying begins again
at the very moment it comes to a stop.
They whisper a little together.
I would have said today
and leap back
to the past this is:
A compromise was agreed on:
My grandma and grandpa
will go for a drive with me
a short, little drive
before driving off on their long trip
back to Falster.
We drove through Copenhagen
and out of the city.
I recognised the tower of the Zoological Gardens.
It wasn’t all that short, even so,
that trip, I thought.
The crying had made me tired.
I woke up in Roskilde.
The sight of the cathedral spires
made me anxious.
I knew what those spires meant:
Soon half-way to Falster!
Then I thought of something else
and fell asleep again.
Right in the middle of the Storstrøm Bridge I woke up.
No way back!
The bridge disappeared beneath me.
There was only a fall that went on and on
and for the same reason
it was pointless to offer any resistance.
The whole world was bottomless.
It almost felt secure.
At that moment I knew what love is
what departing is
and what lying is
and that they’re bound up with each other the way they are
because you’re going to miss everything and everyone.
THE THOUGHTFUL CHILD
As a child I thought: To begin with you’re a child
and then at the psychiatrist’s the rest of your life.
And I can prove that
because those who can walk on water
can also read people’s thoughts:
The skaters stood stock-still for a moment
on the surface of the black bogwater
such an impression did the word
psychiatrist have on them.
I also thought: With so many cars
the world won’t last long: They must be got rid of
So I flattened my toy cars
with a hammer.
That got me into a right bollocks
a word that at that time it was strictly forbidden
even to think about.
Some people will probably say: What a clever child.
Others: He hasn’t been at the psychiatrist’s enough yet.
But it was in mid-May
The fish were leaping all the time out of the black water
with the same eagerness I have later seen
people leap out of hospital windows
a couple of months earlier, when there’s still snow.
THE VIEW FROM THE RAMPART DWELLINGS
What sounds like the sea
is the traffic of those on their way home.
Even in my deepest dreams
I know that I am dreaming
as life knows that it is death’s
dream of wakening.
When from time to time I open my eyes
I think I can glimpse the sea.
But it turns out to be a car
that’s coming to fetch me.
THE GOLDEN BIRD
As far as I am from myself
yet on account of the years that passed
so unnervingly near
it must be me who once planted
that yellow tree out in the yard.
My late world lights it up
like imagined gold
in the mole’s passages.
But everything I write is untrue
a language learnt all wrong from the start.
Children in prison uniforms
each holding up its letter.
Summer spells the word autumn, evening
and greasy plates.
in the top of the golden tree sings a golden bird
about a golden bird in a golden tree.
No one answers it.
Shame, I dreamt, in the beginning was shame.
When I stood face to face with shame
I understood that I’d spent my life on it.
So that was that. And shame was only a word
like, for example, Constantinopolitan.
And I would soon be dead. Dead of shame.
Shame was little, old, wizened and bluish.
To being with, I felt pity for it.
Then I broke its fingers, knocked its teeth out
and put out its eyes with an awl.
That’s what dreams are like. It wasn’t a pretty sight
to see it on its knees begging for its life.
As I couldn’t pronounce it
I ran sobbing off from school, sobbing.
And what’s more it was just at the time
when the hawthorn was in blossom.
For the sake of one word I had to suffer so much.
And not until this instant does it occur to me
that I have since got to know
several female Constantinopolitans
pretty well – and without feeling ashamed.
Everyone must have noticed by now how
more and more soft toys have begun
to leave their mark on the cityscape.
Especially during the months of March and April
when the sun reaches the dirt most carefully hidden
the increase becomes conspicuous.
Does that mean that we, the thoughtful, melancholic
must transform ourselves into real bears
or at worst baboons?
That’s one theory. Love
of one’s country and all that sort of stuff is another
and some people go on like that until they collapse
at the end of the painfully long summer evenings.
If I understood what I had written
when, clad in pyjamas and slippers,
I sat on the edge of the bed the day after and read it
it would be meaningless, a betrayal
of everything beautiful: You can’t catch me.
When death comes, we’re to be glad.
That’s our programme at any rate.
By saying we we believe we can fool death
all of us ‘we’s. All of us think it
but no one thinks out loud.
The one who first says I dies first.
So no one says I. It is the hospital:
We its patients. Each patient is a we.
Especially in May this has a convincing effect
and especially when we’re outside.
A smell of new-mown grass and chlorine surrounds us
when we go for a walk right down to the entrance
from where we, in our nightshirts, have acquired the habit
of watching the sun set on the world.
The grease spots of the poppies confuse our gazing.
We cannot hold on to anything, but then we’re not I
either, we think. But no one thinks it out loud.
The one who first thinks out loud dies first.
So far, though, May is so fat.
The flower-fat of the dandelions vies
with the green-fat of the wood and the fat flags.
The sky is grossly fat with swallows.
They shit on people and their cars
indiscriminately. We discriminate.
The cars die first, but the cars rise again.
Evening is on the way, it will soon be June
children are born, the dandelion seeds are flying
then July and August. Then it’ll be etc.
But right now May is so fat
that death cannot show a bone
and when it comes, it will be with gladness.
When we die, we’ll become Mr. I again.
ON TOFTEGÅRD SQUARE
The same language: Grey skies and buses.
The buses are lined up, no one
is going to drive
we’ve talked about everything there was to talk about
even so the words haven’t been used up.
If you count, there are probably
more of them than when we began.
That is what in the same language makes
grey skies so grey, so grey.
The same language means: The buses
The underworld’s the name of the place we bought tickets for.
So it doesn’t exist any longer either.
The skies are grey.
I feel I ought to write. It’s just that
I can’t. It is the same language.
Writers who cannot find anything to write about
can always write about Odysseus.
the yellow buses beneath the grey sky.
When they switch on their lights and drive out
they look like the fleet of the Hellenes.
The fleet of the Hellenes
seen from the coast, by the Trojans it should be noted.
And they have been in the Underworld ever since.
Then there was that dream about the killer-chicken
Evita, and what she had to say.
For such was reality.
For that was what she said.
‘Caretaker,’ she also said. ‘That’s a bit less
than a head teacher
and you also live in the basement
but that’s just one example
of the fact I’m right about everything.’
Therefore people said of course she was
right about everything
so she could kill everything and everyone
you refused to agree she was right.
When she pecked the kangaroo’s eyes out
and it looked at me
from up in the sky, through a hole
in a torn cloud
which made it look like the moon
I finally knew what creature
I lacked words for
to be myself
to be able to stop dreaming like that.
OUT DINING IN THE POSHER PART OF THE SUBURBS
The next last thing, I went out to see how
but it was too far to get there
I was told my somebody who’d been there
and there was nothing special about that
he added. So now
he just looked after his potato field.
From there, things went downhill fast.
I saw some people who had got lost
and got stuck there
with frost in their hair and green eyes.
They only did that
because they wanted to be loved.
I had to go through a war as well.
Since I didn’t understand its logic
I was riddled with holes without getting hurt
so when I caught sight of a large villa
where they were busy eating the food I knew
I was not surprised.
I didn’t even bother to go in and say hello.
So that must have been the last thing.
APPEAL TO PLUMBERS
I used to use the word pain
as when you talk about a kitchen sink
that’s got blocked.
And the autumn light makes the grease on the plates
look like old make-up
and you can’t remember the name of a person
who repairs kitchen sinks
and when the word plumber
finally comes to you
he hasn’t time for a couple of hours
and comes a couple of hours too late.
And then evening comes
just like after all the other days
and you go to the cinema
alone, and see a film you’ve forgotten
long before the kitchen sink
breaks down the next time
so all you can do is go home
and lie awake in the dark
and think of all the other words
you also misused, and everything that
went wrong, all of those
who disappeared because they didn’t want to be part of it –
so perhaps that even so could be
what is called pain.
ON THE PROS AND CONS OF LIFE
When the light’s on
I change my mind and keep going.
When the house is dark
I lack paper and pen.
When the apple tree’s green
the blossom’s missing.
When the spring’s over
we miss what we missed.
When many years ago I had to write an essay
on ‘the pros and cons of life’
I noted this
one night when the apple tree was in bloom.
The light from the bedside lamp I’d forgotten to turn off
woke me up far out in the wood.
‘What a ghost-house!’ I said out loud
even though I was alone
and the house what’s more was mine.
I stole round it, but didn’t dare go in.
I managed to spell my way back
through the prickly scrub
to the place in the book where I’d fallen asleep
and the train to India was to arrive.
But because the consonants
because of this had been torn out of my name
I came to the wrong station.
On a bench on the platform a person was sitting
who proved to be death
by the way he lifted
his red-wine glass towards the moon.
The last train hadn’t left yet, he said.
We made a bet on that.
And to my surprise I won
so since then I haven’t been able to fall asleep again.
VIEW WITH PADLOCKS
After September there’s just padlock on padlock.
Nobody asks why nobody asks
so there is nobody who asks.
The head doctor says it’s his elephant
waiting outside, it’s furiously
impatient, so he can’t operate until next week.
End of his story.
Crane is just called crane.
No explanation why it’s lifting a red-painted boat
up in the air in the midst of the mountains’ silence.
And that’s when it’s Wednesday. The 13th on the other hand
when we stand keeping an eye on the boat
to see whether it will also make it to the sea
the yellow leaves swirl across the windows
each of them struck by a sun’s ray
so it hurts right out to the toilet at the end of the passage.
We are all waiting for that.
Once it used to be I, but it’s calmer with we.
Elephant is just called elephant.
And there are nights when they rush trumpeting through the town
on their hind legs, and arm in arm
so the moon sees the padlocks the rest of us only hear creak.
As the most important of my principles
I always eat an apple
core and all.
So it must be her teeth
that have left their mark on that core over there
now that her lips
as the crow flies
are more than three thousand kilometres away.
It’s lying there on the stair
shrivelled, brown and just as ugly
as it is far
out of the town, through the forests, mountains, silver mines
over the sea and what you otherwise dream about
until you find your wings
and meet her in flight.
But for the time being I hate her
because she threw away that core there.
So that poor worm
which considered it its home
and had never heard of Western Philosophy
and especially Freud
as she says, as opposed
to the animals was an idiot
dried up one stair lower down.
When we pulled in to the side
the brambles scratched the paint of the car
to my already threadbare
While I rummaged under the bonnet
you admired a golden bird
with a long, crimson tail
whose song soared and dipped
above the river bed among the mountains.
I too from time to time
must have cast a glance upwards
and have tuned my ear to something
else than the off-sound of the engine
I realise now, with the summer over
and us talking on the phone
from two different sides of a dark continent
where the mountain tops have begun to gleam white.
There is more sun than shadow in the shadow
and more shadow than sun in the sun.
The weather is tatty like a three-day-old
shirt over the back of a chair
and on my retina there is a spot
where the sun has produced a fly
in a winter-white room.
It will never go away
and exactly as far off as she is
she will never go away either
and the door she took with her when she left
so that house will never be shut
and the heart pumps in vain
because the heart’s doors are open like the house’s.
I cannot get up from the bed
and find no rest
because I cannot feel myself for flies.
‘I’ll find another woman all right,’
sounds tempting at first
but then sets my teeth on edge like sugar.
THE BLUE SHED
You mustn’t leave me, you mustn’t!
But be so kind, if you do
to take your things with you
so they won’t be left behind
in some old shed or other
as they did in the dream
I escaped from so badly last night.
It was funny enough, that shed:
It was blue, and then it was on a jetty
and through the drizzle the full moon
shone on the red shutters
where someone had painted mermaids and sea anemones.
Behind the door hung your dressing gown
the embroidered one with the tassels
and the gramophone was playing your music
precisely as we had taught it to.
Then I knew that you had left me
and that it was because of the motor bike
that I had left
behind one of the many pubs on the bathing jetty
and forgotten when I had left the place.
All night long I walked around in the rain
looking for the motor bike
a large, vulgar, chromium-plated thing
I would never have acquired myself
but now had lost
and therefore would give everything to find.
Because I couldn’t find it
your things didn’t disappear either from the blue house
and because your things didn’t disappear
you didn’t come back either
and because you didn’t come back
I will never dream about the little blue house again.
Therefore I cannot exclude either
that in my dream
I drove into the harbour on my motor bike and drowned.
That possibly doesn’t explain all of it
but it is easier to live with
than if you had simply left me.
BEHIND THE DIKE
A little into March summer suddenly
seems all too close:
One evening evening just keeps on going.
The darkness can’t put out
the white houses in the lyme grass on the dike.
Past and future are each other’s hostages.
The ransom money glitters
in the offshore wind on the far horizon
where no one can come.
So my travels resist
and erase the languages
where I for a while was me.
In all the world I have finally
always remained at home.
The flies have regained their glow
the sun begins to blare.
The days pass slowly and half
alongside each other
so the lakes turn, dark-violet
woods wash gold.
Now and then one gives a start:
One was just about to catch sight
of one of those whose thoughts you share
but out of habit take to be one’s own.
They follow one, one feels
but one never sees them:
One walks the earth alone
and imagines the trees full of life.
One’s still oneself
when the wood ends and the day is past
fortunately out in the open
beneath a new-moon-black sky.
PORTRAIT OF THE HEROINE, FAR OUT AT SEA
The summer is over.
It resembled the other summers
as much as they resembled each other
and were different
and like the statues on Easter Island
they opened their eyes
as soon as you turned your back on them
And every summer
remembered more than had taken place.
On my way away from the place where I was
I stop for a while at a river.
There an inn lies
red in the October dusk
down by the water’s edge.
The red colour is swift
like an on-coming express train
and numbing like an anaesthetic.
I haven’t been shut out
of my senses like this
since I was four.
Nor will I ever again
be taken back so suddenly.
The place where I was
was the place where I was
and a barge lay there
half-full of water and yellow leaves
that hat never sailed on the sea
into which the river emptied.
A little later on in the summer
there is a narrow gravel path
that goes behind the hospital
where it apparently ends in a rubbish heap
but on closer inspection
continues out into the countryside.
There lies a dark-red house on a hill-top
shut in on itself like a safe-deposit box
over which cumulus clouds build their vault.
The hospital walls are yellow like morning urine.
It is afternoon.
The approaching evening lies years back.
NOTES FROM A SUMMER
Notes from a summer: Air marked by years.
The wind rises, and with it the words:
‘It was otherwise such a beautiful country
and so blue a sea. You could see
all the way down. Almost all the way.’
And thus my gaze crams the mountain ridge’s lesson:
We know nothing, and on the other side
there is a new valley the like of this one
There too you notice the god
who moves into cars when they are scrapped.
The bridge over the motorway stands on one leg
like a long-desired object
it has up till now been impossible to discover.
After it you land up in the queue.
But as yet there is no question of sleep.
The King of the Dead bears cement to my mother.
My mother concretes the coasts.
There are only a few drops left of the sea.
I cannot see the bottom
because I’m standing a little lower than the sun.
As the term offshore wind suggests, you saw from the land
the invisible force that made the sea so smooth
that you’d slide out onto it if you did not resist
so clearly that the pine trees behind your back
which you otherwise only heard, now suddenly
added their darkness to the depths
that began where the smoothness sharply stopped
and blinding wave-crests crushed
a mirror over the abyss into which we felt
we were doomed to sink: Shards of glass
were scattered and gathered and scattered again
so we smiled, saw ourselves smile, recovered our breath,
and delightedly shouted offshore wind, offshore wind again.