I don’t prefer the chirping of the birds
to silence, nor silence
to the chirping of the birds. I like
the wind’s gust, the change
between sounds and absence,
of sounds, the lustful chaos of song
as well as the state of things afterwards,
when something slowly expands
in all directions, starts to smoulder behind
the night’s pulse. Restlessness,
invading longing, a narrow
chink in the hard shell.
To give what cannot be taken,
to take what can only be given,
a single sigh brings it all together.
‘You terrorise me with life,’
and hurl me outside myself
for a moment.
Silence hammers steel,
forges it layer by layer to a Damascus knife,
The words cut dark red,
radiate in the flesh.
‘And you terrorise me with death,’
without being able to draw air.
Shiny sharpened sun chill,
flames of fever through the air.
The lake borders on rocks and woods,
Even in the middle of the day a night of metal,
knife edges of sunbeams flicker over the water.
The lake is a gigantic mirror for a stream
of jagged clouds, sheer being,
when the sky drains itself.
Here is captured the fleeting,
the unbounded, the ever
What is going to die,
brands the mind with glowing iron
when it becomes clear
as the undercurrent in deep lapping
against the bottom of the boat now
signals power of hidden forces,
and the smell of lake water
grows sharp with silt and rot,
while the world shaped by itself
still swims in the universe.
I can’t really ask a husband to repair
the earrings I got
from another man.
For hours I have tried myself
to wiggle the little clip in place,
but it still won’t take hold
of my ear.
My fingers are at work, my soul
is working. Overtime.
The other man gives me
earrings from a stall in a piazza
in Rome, they are oval, they glow
like a consummated sunset,
but to repair them is also
unthinkable. There is no time
for repair, I could have been
more cautious with that gift.
To make me a present of earrings
was not what the first man would do, it
would never occur to him
to give me earrings
such a long time after the wedding and certainly not
to take me to Rome, but
he is good at repairing things,
for a whole lifetime he has repaired my life,
kept me going with,
but mostly without, earrings.
The smell greets me
I return home. My own smell
leaps to meet me when I step inside,
I suddenly think about the smell,
which I don’t when I’m at home.
I notice myself as I sniff in
the smell with other people’s noses,
perceive how they experience
my smell when they breathe in.
If they feel pleasure or discomfort, I don’t know,
just that they detect an odour that isn’t theirs,
the smell familiar to me is for them
the smell of another, a stranger.
My nose has smelled many people,
the smells of by far the most are quickly gone again,
there are very few I don’t forget, but my own
I recognise sleepwalker-like each single time.
I return to my smell. Or it comes
to me, a smell-trail I have dragged from room to room
in the apartment, every time it’s the smell that greets me
first, bids me welcome like a hungry carnivore.
Nose to the ground
Are there narcotics and intoxicating substances
in the luggage from Copenhagen to Malmö.
Is something illegal being transported
across the Sound in bags and suitcases.
By the sense of smell a salmon trout moves
thousands of kilometres through rivers and streams.
Customs officials go through the train with a dog,
whose muzzle sniffs up the air carriage by carriage.
With its antennae
a male moth can register
just a single smell molecule from a female
at up to a distance of around five kilometres.
The dog sniffs for narcotics and chemicals,
is able to smell concentrations
hundreds of thousands of times smaller than I can,
it stops in front of a bag in the compartment,
has its raised muzzle smelled trouble.
All at once the dog detects something, scrapes its paw,
the passenger opposite sits perfectly still, I
sit perfectly still, listen to his breathless blood.
A forgotten smell suddenly, the smell of myself.
THE TASTE OF STEEL
I No return
15 Stages on life’s way
16 In eternal pursuit
17 Unposted letter
19 Winter blood
20 Not even in museums is there peace
23 Stopping at the sight of swans
24 Plenty of time
III Off track
31 After frost-white shell of cold
32 Japanese cherries
33 Night country
36 Bodies without root nets
40 Power cut
42 Pont Neuf
44 Daily choice
45 The pets and their people
46 Time and space
49 The darkness machine
50 Razed city
51 The journalist’s question
52 The spring’s grave
53 A before and an after
54 View from space
58 A squirrel bids welcome
59 Despair drinks ﬁre
60 Life with pigeons
65 The anonymous part of the churchyard
66 Each in our own flame
67 Porous border
70 A display case filled with night
72 On the other side
73 Greeting from the deceased
74 Snow flowers
80 Crime scene
81 Mother tongue
82 Word and soul
84 Johan Borgen – a ritual
91 The taste buds wake up
92 We are born again
93 Animal smell of light
94 Killer whales
96 Early morning
THE SMELL OF SNOW
I Breathe in, breathe out
103 Fresh snow
105 Under cirrus clouds
107 Your fragrance wakes me
109 Freezing fog
110 Lovesick bird
112 Noses, a comparative study
114 Seduced by Gregory Pincus
115 Not a gift
116 Tags in the night
118 Cleaning poisons
120 Them or us
121 Digital odours
125 Spring inhalation
126 Exchange of smells
127 Danish cat meets Australian stone
128 Smell of tomatoes
129 Smell-trace of a morning
131 Camellia japonica
132 Benchmarks from a long day
137 Wrong number
138 Under the asphalt the Milky Way
140 Nose to the ground
141 The cream from China
V The five seasons. A catalogue of smells
153 The fifth season
VI Flashes of thought
157 Caught in the act
158 Smell blind
159 The meaning of meaninglessness
160 After showers of bullets in paradise
162 Words without smell
164 The smell can be parted from the body
165 Reflection on snow and ice
167 Intense lethargy
168 Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt
169 The end of icebergs
VIII Inner world, outer world
172 The smell greets me
173 Memory bank for smells
174 Insect wing
175 Nausea – a flashback
179 Flower shop
180 The primordial brain
IX One breath makes the difference
182 Attack in Copenhagen
183 Welcome, people live here
184 I want to be a tree
185 Twelve breaths
186 The smell of books
188 There has been prismatic rain
189 The stream of smells from below
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