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from “The Horse Eaters”

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.