Sketch (Skagen, Denmark) by Gunnar Harding
Sew a cloud, sew apple blossoms, saunter in summer clothes
along the flat beach
that slopes down under the oceanís swelling crinolines.
Who hasnít grown up in a mental hospital?
Who isnít forever seeing road signs pointing back there?
The dining-room tables moved out into the garden
and the bottles arranged to block the death rays.
The idea was that everyone should be happy.
Thatís why complications had to come ashore
disguised as small composers
with slick mustaches and metronomic gaits,
promenading half-notes in black trousers.
A doll thrown into the corner of a sofa
by a child whoís begun to grow.
Shadows of leaves on their faces until the rain comes,
so thin with fine sand that their glasses are filmed over.
Forgetfulness arrives with the rain
and continues through the fields,
invisible, invisible but cool. Afterwards
is the moment that causes the most pain.
The beach is endless. Boats full of fish
turn back to the ocean. Gleam of phosphorus in the sand:
itís gull shit, powdery in your palm.
Taste it. Thatís what remains
of the sun.
Itís so cold in here
among the objects of our childhood.
The gas heating has been turned down, since no one lives here anymore
aside from a fatigue that comes from far away
and will have power over me forever.
These tables and chairs, plates and forks Ė
will they forget us, our suburban naivetť,
and bereft of history find their places
under new lamps, in other neighborhoods?
It was an exhibition almost no one attended
since we were the only ones called on to see the objects
that formed us and that bear impressions of who we were.
So much was made of crepe paper,
it rustles, gray-blue, rough, almost old-fashioned,
while the floorís silence grows
for the telephone to be hooked up again.
Translated by Roger Greenwald