24 June 2009

Inger Christensen

[from Inger Christensen's Butterfly Valley: A Requiem, tr. Susanna Nied, New Directions. 2001]

Meeting [excerpt]


I do not know what it is. I cannot tell you what it is. I have
      no clear concept; as with words, it is no longer clear
      what they are.
Within the world. Once lost in the grass and always happily
      crawling. One second the connection with evil lost and
      always thoughts about some little approaching second or
Care only about trees. They open out, fold in, close, stand
      ajar. They have a tree-life, longer on the average. Trees
      are also beautiful.
Care only about sea and sky and earth. The streaming, lift-
      ing, bearing. The longest-living and all that moves with,
      in, on; it is no longer clear what it is.
But it is within the world. We have stood up somewhere
      and begin with steps. We press close to a tree to remem-
      ber the grass. We press close to each other to remember
      the tree. Step by step we go farther, try to remember the
      body, press close to the wind and to space to try to see
      what it is.
But it is no longer clear. We are within the world. Grass, tree,
      body. Sea, sky earth -- care only about those. Nothing
      has happened. But there is a silence. There is a lie. I can-
      not say what it is.
Time sneaks kindly about. Streets blossom. Houses sway
      like palms. Seagulls circle the holy flagpole. Everything
      is in violent upheaval, like flowered dresses on tourist
      boats. I have no clear concept. But bravely we say hello
      and goodbye or lay wreaths.
My love -- for that word exists -- there is a lie. There is a
      closed door. I can see it. It is gray. It hgas a little black
      hand to shake hello and goodbye. It has a little, black,
      stiff hand, which is completely still now. That door is not
      a lie. I sit and stare at it. And it is not a lie. I cannot tell
      you what it is.

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