You can feel dejected, thwarted, dead,
even as you walk about breathing soundly.
You can sense that the bat back home
is considerably larger than yourself.
And were your fingers to get tangled in the culture-spider’s
sticky web up in the corner,
you’d no longer be able to tear yourself free,
you’d just keep getting deeper and deeper entangled
while the culture-spider waited patiently
for you to be tender enough to devour.
You feel dejected, your trumpeting done.
And there’s no key for the slatted door,
though you move about in a world
that to the enthusiastic horseman likely resembles
the apotheosis of freedom.
But all you need to know for now, despondent hippophagous,
is that the entire world is a prison.
You share the newcomer-slave’s fate,
and yet not quite.
At least they serve some kind of purpose, however bitter-ironic
it may sound.
They stand in lumps behind the emptied pig-market
and wait
for the horse-beaters to chase them into the coalmines
and the oil rigs in the bay.
That’s how you tip-toed about, it was dark everywhere.
The consul switched off the light
in the highways and byways; only in the diplomats’ café
did they allow the faux-chandelier’s
radiant treasures from the horse-eaters’ Victorian times.
Suddenly you found yourself outside,
as if,
like sediment speeding into the drain,
you had unwittingly trickled by.
The doorkeeper sniffed out your presence,
and this time he swore he’d swing the cane if you
got too close.
Your colleague just left the café.
He exchanged a few words with the doorkeeper.
Then he walked toward you
passed by
without saying
hello.  

From Hestæderne. Copyright Thomas Boberg. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Morten Høi Jensen. All rights reserved.

Man kan føle sig bortkastet, forpurret, død,
selvom man går vejtrækkende omkring.
Man kan fornemme, at flagermusen derhjemme
er betydeligt større end én selv.
Fik man fingrene viklet ind i kulturedderkoppens
klæbrige net oppe i hjørnet,
ville man ikke længere være i stand til at slide sig fri,
men blot vikle sig dybere og dybere ind,
mens kulturedderkoppen tålmodigt ventede
på, at man var mør nok til at blive fortæret.
Man føler sig bortkastet, færdig som trompetist.
Og der er ingen nøgle til tremmedøren,
skønt man bevæger sig rundt i en verden,
der for en entusiastiske rytter ganske sikkert ligner
frihedens apoteose.
Men sandheden for dig lige nu, mismodige hippofag,
er jo at hele verden er et fængsel.
Du deler skæbne med tilflytterslaverne,
men alligevel ikke.
De tjener dog en slags formål, hvor bitterironisk
det end kan lyde.
De står i klumper bag det slunkne grisemarked
og venter
på at hestepiskerne jager dem af sted til kulminerne
og boreplatformene ude i bugten.
Sådan listede du omkring, det var mørkt overalt.
Konsulen havde slukket for lyset
på gader og stræder, kun i diplomaternes café
havde man licens til simililysekronernes
strålende klenodier fra hesteædernes klunketid.
Du befandt dig pludselig udenfor,
som om du
som bundfaldet på vej mod afløbet
uafvidende var piblet her forbi.
Dørvogteren havde allerede vejret dit nærvær,
og denne gang ville han svinge krabasken, hvis du
kom for nær.
Din kollega kom netop ud af caféen.
Han udvekslede et par ord med dørvogteren.
Så gik han hen imod dig
lige forbi
uden at
hilse.

Copyright Thomas Boberg




Thomas BobergThomas Boberg

Thomas Boberg is an award-winning Danish poet and travel writer. He was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize on two occasions, in 1999 for Americas, an account of his travels in North and South America, and in 2006 for Livsstil, a collection of poems.

Translated from DanishDanish by Morten Høi JensenMorten Høi Jensen

Morten Høi Jensen’s essays and reviews have appeared in Bookforum, Open Letters Monthly, The Quarterly Conversation, and elsewhere. His translations have previously appeared in the Brooklyn Rail’s online supplement, InTranslation.