Five Poems by SÝren Ulrik Thomsen
For everything out too long in the rain
in the heat in the shade in the wind in the world;
everything still chained to life
as the sun pierces its crusted form.
And for everything escaping drop by drop
down the whitewashed wall and the bulging gauze-wrapped sewer pipe
to come out first as rust, then as dust ó
the allusions to negative growth
to tarnish, corrosion, sediments, are no accident
because this is for everything homeless
seeking a place in the wilderness of power lines
urine and discarded drawing
Not the codís skeleton
white on a white plate
but for the bits of fish rotting
between a gold tooth and a silver one;
for the blood slipping along wax on dental floss
and the glinting in the mirror before your face.
Your face which canít be seen in a mirror
but only in someone elseís.
For each rose we bring to life in the night
the day subtracts a carefree interpretation.
Even the simplest lines, almost a song,
heap into compact sonnets
whose hanging leaves and shadows, flickering undergrowth
fall between you and the world.
We bear the gray hairs on our skulls like wings
which shimmer as we turn after each other.
But I canít bear that the second
a rose was set like a crossbeam at the top of this poem
has now been subtracted from time to come.
Iíve lived 35 years and need that many more
to get over the first.
In the apartment towers there are still lights;
across the curtains float the signs of the living;
down through all seventeen stories
the elevator noiselessly swallows those of the dead.
Among calculations, letters and writings
a dried rose turns up Ė
the lamp hung on the summer balcony
sings like a watchman in the wind:
Itís fall! Fall!
Again October has burned down our life;
on the table the ocean of ink is set out Ė
we have one more chance.
But recently Iíve grown afraid
that dying once a year is no longer enough;
while the maple gives up its light to the storm wind,
this poem, a smoldering copper beech, fills out.
Lose yourself in the shade of this bookís pages.
I waken and gather from the mirror
that I wasnít born yesterday.
The thing is to buy time
so that you can bear to lose everything you must.
To give up an hour a day
for doing anything by all the rules of the art:
Iron your shirt. Learn a really difficult poem by heart.
What is more pitiful than our constant leaving?
As if we hadnít been uprooted once and for all.
I donít try to tell myself Iím born anew each morning
just because each day is as if newly born.
But then, trees hardly dream of me
as I do of them.
With a beam of light the young doctor points
into my eye
where a silent film crackles.
The last of the characters
who left it to me
to write words to the story ó
I bore to the grave yesterday
as lilacs, swans,
and everything white in this world
placed the rest in shadow.
There I sat long listened
to the whispering dissolution
of two headache tablets in water.
ďItís hereditary,Ē he says,
switching the light off.
If, as when I was seventeen,
I could see my life as fiction,
everything would have meaning Ė
the date, the rain, and the dream in which
behind a frostflower-strewn pane;
but I got lost in the curving sets of paths
that cut through the darkness of novels
and was robbed by others
of all I had scraped together
of values, ideas, and big vulgar diplomas
before I was written out of the story
and into the private hospital of poetry
with all in all 13 words
like lilies thrown into the sea
where the ship sank.
An inextinguishable sun slipped into my room
furnished with bed, telephone
and a cradle full of shadows and chlorine
Ė suddenly then a voice saying,
ďHour by hour, life returns.Ē
But since then I remember nothing,
and now today scrapes toward tomorrow,
where my memories start.
Translated by Susanna Neid