Philip Brady & Torild Wardener

Making Introductions

 

Essay:

An Introduction to Torild Wardener's "The Drift of Days and Nights"
 

Poems:

 

Five pieces of advice, entered
Opals
Around lunchtime
Ill at ease, well at ease
I make a U-turn I
I make a U-turn II
Interior I
Interior II
Figuratively
Amongst all that is awake I
Amongst all that is awake II
Amongst all that is awake III
Amongst all that is awake IV
Amongst all that is awake V
Amongst all that is awake VI
the night you were born
night filter
Aus der neuen Welt
Mojacar
Exit
Miracle number seven
Small circuit

Offensive from the proletariat
here in the harbour
Method I
Method II
even the dervishes
From here, from inside the husk of the world
Ambush, December
Training to gallop
From the circus ring
After Hamelin
It is August
Time for presents
This ideal moment
From now on
Collection
fugue
Universe I
We begin to stammer
danger of explosion
The drift of days and nights
you and the tiny heart siskin
we upset the deep-sea sounder

 

 

Philip Brady

An Introduction to Torild Wardener's "The Drift of Days and Nights"


I FIRST MET Torild Wardener at Fundacion Valparaiso, a writers and artists colony on the coast of Andalusia in Spain. In fact, it was there in that brilliant swath of desert between the Mediterranean and the white cliffs of the town of Mojacar that Torild composed "The Drift of Days and Nights," which Artful Dodge now has the privilege to offer to American readers. Though she and I spent a few languorous afternoons transposing her Norwegian into English, it wasn't until a year later, when Torild sent me John Irons' translations, that I saw laid out before me a landscape as magical as the Andalusian desert where these poems were conceived.

But the landscape of "The Drift of Days and Nights" is not one a tourist of Spain or Norway would recognize. Nor is it solely an internal landscape, a map of the mind at play, though it is that too. These poems instead explore the space where the sublunary and eternal touch. That sounds like rarefied air, but here it's a recognizable, even intimate space, teeming with the quotidian and the cosmic: fennel, car mirrors and nebula. It is a stratum created from the aura of named things; no, not the aura; the fever, a vitality threatening to implode. Whether Wardener describes traffic in a city tunnel, or the contents of her refrigerator, or "toes that feel squeezed even in the best shoes," always these poems spiral out from a force inside the enclosed space.

Their power derives not only from the plenitude of things seen and named, but from the reassortment of the great and small; the world shaken and reassembled slightly off the mark so that we almost see the fault lines. "All of it," Wardener reminds us, is "caused by a friction, a movement which I begin." But friction here does not sand the world down to the merely ironic; we are not asked to choose between alternative realities. Rather, "The Drift of Days and Nights" is just that; a permeation, a drift, a fabric made from striations of light and dark.

Much has been made of the question of form in prose poems; whether such a thing isn't an oxymoron. These prose poems address that question; not directly; these are not reflexive or rhetorical pieces. But they address the question by revealing one source of poetic form: the need to make something that feels as liberating and as pressured as the life of a human form. With relaxed speed, in a voice that shifts from comic to elegiac, Wardener shows us that poetry is never a matter of scale, that its gift is to make us see Blake's "eternity in a grain of sand, infinity in an hour." Ultimately, the form of these poems derives from the tension they maintain; gracefully, elegantly; between poetry and prose, day and night, air and space, identity and anonymity, life and death. This is their form-though not perhaps immediately apprehended. It is a form that comes to us slowly, by accretion, and it asks more from us than our attention: it asks our participation, asks us to enter the in-betweenness and feel the consequences of "the small movements [we] perform: a rolling of the neck, nails across a slightly shaky surface, the decision to add extra weight to the short day."

This issue of Artful Dodge is the first I've had the good fortune to be involved in as Poetry Editor. I'm especially proud to facilitate Torild Wardener's first appearance in print in the United States-grateful for the chance to revisit and share, in English, in Ohio, the inspiring landscapes of "The Drift of Days and Nights."--Youngstown, Ohio, December 21, 2000

 

 



Torild Wardener

Five pieces of advice, entered


I am cowardly but persevering--sometimes mutter that courage is the
     prime virtue
1. Stay untamed and imitate good people's actions
preen myself under cover of being human, scribble down notes
2. Have many slogans and let everything your eye falls on at any time be your
     fresh young helper

prostrate myself before the great authorities; wind directions, masses of
     snow, nights and days
3. Walk over the face of the earth, see the moon in all its drama, the towns
     beneath, the attacks and retreats of nights and days

the rustling comes from the hardwood forests
4. Visit the gardens of the world
I'd prefer to go straight to paradise in a large-scale freight, but that's
     probably unlikely
5. Love the dangers of this world
so I'll try as best I can to follow the five pieces of advice I've been given.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Opals


That her eyes are so light. Hm. I study them, they fill with water, I thought the iris became darker when this sort of thing happened; hers just become lighter, like opals, the bringer of woe, the precious stone for kings. Mouth red. Skin white. Her hands are trembling and her voice is weak. Eyes like opals. I drift off, to my astonishment I am unable to memorize the last thing that's been said, I try to fix my gaze but it immediately starts to wander. Because of the opals I think of Australia and the bizarre animal life there and the lies told about the degenerate people.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 


Torild Wardener

Around lunchtime


It seems as if the fennel is hollow, I can't know for sure, it smells of liquorice. I slice through it with the Japanese knife with the flat blade and the sound is strange, it is green even though it is winter, I hold it up against the snow-air, I think of other plants: herbs, oregano, large bushes of lavender, I'm forced southwards as usual, this time to the amphitheatre in N�mes. A rumbling comes from the fridge, I've heard of fridges that suddenly explode, because of heat turned inwards in the cold, a force inside the enclosed space.

Who can know the day of their death? Will those left behind me be able to work out my bank connections and insurances? Ought I to make out a detailed will? They are exceptional, those to be left behind me, some of them a bit older than me, others younger. All of them believe they will live long, be happy and think that when they are to die it will happen imperceptibly, perhaps while they're asleep, perhaps in the middle of a dream plaited out of large-leafed ivy.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Ill at ease, well at ease


Perhaps just make do with pictures of the lemon grove,
the nebula or Mars, for despite its declared mobility the body
always stays put in precisely the same place-on the verge of the world,
weighed down by nutrients, by self-inflicted exercises, afflicted by fever
and unassumingly circling around in its own region
bent over at first at the memory of stones, its own weight, its red scar
     tissue
then upright: well-tempered with two taut achilles tendons, one eye
     green, one brown
everything apparently beautifully symmetrical, in its inescapable order.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

I make a U-turn I


I like the small cartilage clicks my head makes when I let it do circles. I especially like the fact that no one else can hear them, but then again, there are plenty of other sounds to derive pleasure from: the effective creaking when the plastic steering wheel in the car is swung to the right or left, the clink my boxes make when they are opened and shut time after time producing a full, short, sharp and at the same time muffled sound. All of it caused by a friction, a movement which I begin. Nothing much happens as a result, except for the small amount I set in motion, the small movements I perform: a rolling of the neck, nails across a slightly shaky surface, the decision to add extra weight to the short day.

I make sounds with my teeth as I drive into the tunnel and the day hangs like a dark banner over the town, a heavy canopy of moisture and darkness and I drive into the tunnel where the lights are bright orange and the fans stand still a long time while I take shallow, cautious breaths so as not to be poisoned. My back-seat passenger starts to fidget, to stop talking, to sweat, fumbles for the handle to wind down the back window, but changes his mind on seeing my look in the back mirror. The conversation between us, which so far has been relaxed and natural, accompanied by creaks from the steering wheel, comes to an end. I pick up Dagens Nyheter and turn to page nineteen to read the obituaries and to study the small symbols above the names: crosses, hearts, circles and doves. Condensation starts fogging up the windows and someone in the tunnel begins to sound his horn, more and more drivers simultaneously do the same and I lean over the steering wheel and join in too. The newspaper slides down onto the floor, the backseat rigours my car has had to endure make it move as it was a live, restless animal that has got wedged within a large flock in a narrow enclosure. The car-bodies stamp in the narrow trap like herds in long rows in both directions, but suddenly the queue begins to move forwards and after a couple of minutes we are out in the open again in a roundabout that spreads us out to all four corners of the town. Where would you like to get off? I ask. He begins to explain, but I say that I could just as well take you to your doorstep, and when he protests, I do a U-turn and set off in the opposite direction while there is a sudden hush in the back seat.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

I make a U-turn II


I take my hands off the steering wheel and start conducting. Gigli and Merrill are beaux-esprits as well as friends, singing their hearts out. I conduct all three of us; it sounds beautiful, we are singing a Bizet opera together, I am moved by the song, by the trio I form with the maestros, the road surface is dry, the tyres grip well, the countryside does not sweep past at all, and I sit still and sing, my hair streaming sideways and horizontally out of the window. I drive fast and the fields lie motionless and the mirror works its way loose off the bracket it is fixed to in the middle of the windscreen. Tons and tons of snow have fallen here, moon upon moon has fallen. Birds, thunder and cries have risen and fallen over the as-yet open expanses of fields. Are they going to rise up against me now, relentlessly? The mirror strikes me on the head before falling between the front seats, and the tenor and baritone sing on while my car swerves onto the opposite lane. For a moment I expect my life to pass in review, that I will again see everything that has happened, separate and together, a bird's eye and worm's eye view at one and the same time. I will relive happy times with people long since dead, put my arms round a neck once more, proudly tie my small girl's laces-everything in a single flash. But then I manage to straighten the car up again and think luckily everything went all right, the mirror could even have landed on the floor and wedged itself between the brake pedal and the clutch.

I pick it up and hold it against my face. I can see a small effusion of blood high up on my forehead and after a while I feel dizzy and unfairly treated, as I always do when I am hurt or frightened, so I take out a thermos and as I drink the hot honey water I hear a car with a broken exhaust approaching at high speed. As it passes, I see that the driver has put on an old man's mask in front of his face. The hair of the mask is white and long and the cheeks are sunken, the chin and the nose are oversized. I adjust the mirror I have just put back and in it I see the mustard-yellow Toyota disappear behind me. The bump on my forehead is swelling up, but the open-window aria along with the duet have given my brain plenty of oxygen. The honey drink has also raised my blood sugar, thus I make a U-turn and set off after the masked driver.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Interior I


while I move quickly from one place to another I can find myself thinking about the light pinewood floors that support me, humbly serving with their recessed, outstretched planks and that it is the generous vegetable kingdom which will also in future provide my meals, simple but nutritious, and that I will keep the oak bed-my nighttime vessel-and above all the colourless clothes I wear as a defense-my linen skirt from which sounds are torn without ripping, it is related to the finest fabrics, satin-silk-damask, is form-fitting and has buttons down the front and I go down the corridor and into the waiting room where there are photographs hanging on the walls and in one of them several people can be seen in a forest, smiling and the floor is hidden beneath a square-patterned carpet which I walk systematically round for a while before the door opens behind me and a voice says my name

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Interior II


Inside the heated, cruciform church a man is lying on the floor. He is wearing red mittens, is sleeping uneasily and kicks out with his legs like a dog from time to time. He is lying on a stretch of carpet right at the intersection of the cross and next to him is a table where a collection box and lit candles have been placed. He is not dreaming of anything he can later recall; it has been a long time since he did that. His liver and lungs move gently and painfully inside his body, and he snores irregularly and sometimes mumbles indistinctly. That after half an hour of restless sleep he is going to get up and stuff the collection box under his filthy quilted anorak comes as no surprise, will hardly be remembered for any length of time. The event will soon glide imperceptibly into the history and ecology of the interior.

It would be natural to believe that the three other visitors would light candles for him and put pieces of paper with requests for intercession in the little basket that has been placed there. But they do not do so. They think only of themselves and their own worries, writing carefully on the small yellow pieces of paper: "Pray that I get rid of my eczema" or : "Pray for my niece, who can't stop gambling." One of them sits down heavily on a pew and looks at the sleeping figure. Reckons that the walls are two metres thick, the man is thirty years old, the church eight hundred and the total displacement only two millimetres.

The sleeping man dreams and no one prays. Inside his office the vicar is thinking of turkey while sitting at his desk. He is thinking of starfish, terylene shirts and his children, but most of all of turkey. The letter from the bishop lies unopened in front of him, and he draws crosses and squiggles on the yellow envelope while he thinks of apples and prunes and rosemary: the stuffing which is best suited to turkey. The man lying at the intersection of the cross moves uneasily once again, for he is dreaming again of something he will not be able to remember; that he is small and is sitting in an oak tree with ruddy cheeks and brown eyes and white milk-teeth and his mother is singing beneath him and the meal is ready and the world stretches out endlessly to all points of the compass.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Figuratively


I take a few steps and look up from the shoes of deep-blue Italian leather into his face: it is light, unusual. If the shoes could only tell, if the shoes could only tell of the hand that shaped them, of the shoemaker and the shoemaker's ancestors. If the shoes could only tell of the Etruscans; they are who I would most like to know something about.

I hold my glass right, nod at F's unassailable speech and have considerable problems knowing what to say. I squirm, chatting about something to right and left-about decadence perhaps, more quickly than usual: don't sound too intense, anything but that, rather blas� and with my body language under control. It doesn't work. So I am left standing there, alone at the edge of the group while I go on looking at other people's shoes, the feet in the shoes, clad in stockings shimmering, but what about the skin, what hasn't it been through in the way of leather and pressure, water and cold? And the underside of the feet; I know my own undersides, a soreness under the soles, toes that feel squeezed even in my best shoes. It is autumn now, ought we not rather be together collecting mushrooms, fetching in the apples, cooking something over a fire? Shouldn't we rather have scratched signs or geometrical figures in the hillside, run amongst the trees? I stand in front of the rectangles formed by the pictures. They keep me in position in the room with their inexplicable grip, and I study F and G and M on the sly while they eat their canap�s and converse and smoke. I long for them. F greedily gulps tobacco smoke down into his lungs, leaning forwards towards the others who gesticulate with their glasses and cigarettes, nodding their heads, spectacled or with jewelry in their ears, rollnecks, white shirt fronts, plaited long hair falling over a suit. They laugh quietly or noisily, according to what is called for, point and wave. Fragments of conversations reach me and M lifts at the same time his lower arms, bares his wrists, makes gestures in the air in the direction of the largest canvas. They all look friendly, have different-coloured eyes that look out of heads in their own different ways they are prize specimens and we belong to the same species, carry whole lives, have known thousands of people. Nevertheless, we are weightless on the parquet flooring, are merely an accumulation of chemical substances, undetonated, waiting for the flare of death.

I turn round, look at his jacket, chosen with care: "It suits me, my temperament and my position here in the world," he has thought, humbly perhaps considering the distinctiveness of this article of clothing, its fit, the soft woven surfaces, the cool lining.

"With this single piece of attire I will reduce my outer apparition, with its clear-cut lines this jacket will help emphasize my inner qualities, indeed, my ability to love, provide glimpses of the short but significant stays I have had under distant skies and at the same time make me ordinary, bear witness to countless hours spent around the stove, the bath tub, the iron in the house where I am stationed now, where I find shelter."

I move around the room, awkward and preoccupied though perfectly justified. I ask him a couple of questions, but he does not reply in a way that can confirm my assumptions. And what about the pictures? They hang there on the walls, have released me from their rectangular grip and are either without titles or called 'Attack', 'Assault' or 'Coincidences' and I look at them with new eyes. They forgive the eye, they convert surface into time, and I accept them completely as landings in our extended and isolated lives.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake I


The map of the battle zones is redrawn, an emergency warning is put out. A boy looks for his mother. An old man with a heart sweet and blue-black as a ripe plum says that everyone who has come back from the dead will be happy for the rest of his life, that he will return there. Meanwhile the world will be unapproachable, a primeval mirror which we gaze and gaze at without understanding. We are to be at home yet long for home. We are to sit awake, eat compulsively, gulp in moonlight and toss and turn because the simplest things seem to call for deep absorption and patience. The pressure from the silent parts of the memory will increase. It comes from the nursery, dry and fragile, and we search through all our vocabularies but have been transplanted here; rejected tissue, exhausted with watching, without replies and stretched out between now and now but no longer on guard. We dream with open eyes towards the days: hunger-speckled. Towards the nights: fat; silent; deeply dark.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake II


I rely on the brain, I rely on it for this: that it controls the chemistry which is always on the go with its whooshing and its sugary mix. That it fixes enough oxygen for me to get along. That it keeps at a distance the very worst in language, that which circulates bold and unabashed inside its delicate mazes and binds together fat and protein and words of wisdom. That it coldly rejects that which rises to the unrecognizable, which concurs with everything people say: shopkeepers, newsreaders, vicars. Invoked or not, the words do not be afraid come, they filter in and out of my head like a small god. Then I am exposed to it again, protect myself with small shields against all the noise, gaze at the clouds, the moon, the blacked out ships-everything that holds my tiny world together, and I put my trust in the brain's intrepid agents: they shoot like marksmen, coolly smuggle in whatever is in short supply, the usual: faith, hope, love.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake III


something has been razed to the ground again and we lie together in a trance; you rounded off in sleep-white-skinned, sleeping against the keen night while I scrape myself up again on the electric space which has expanded into a kind of world space, all too vast for me, so I lie still, stiff with troubles and memories, but trained in withstanding low voltage, falls in temperature, stars that fall, repetitions upon repetitions, for everything serves that which is to come: the new days with foliage and gold-leaf and soaring flight, you who will wake of your own accord and look at me

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake IV


The brain: proud, amoeba-like. On the back: happiness's high hump. A twin takes me by the hand, accompanies me towards death and indulgence and whole worlds first through a garden of snakes then through green waters. There is singing there, but someone stops up our ears and lashes us to the mast of reason. Our neanderthal hearts beat so strongly.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake V


The table never sleeps, gathers us around it, four-legged, three-coloured, upright as now, murmuring-dreams with open eyes, lopped, chopped, it has been forest, it has been felled, sowed itself anew, has waited for the seed, the flesh. The table knows the impotence of logic, my elbows, lower arms, knows my changing manners, the bottle-green dress, the salty meals, the ceremonies in the polar night; flame, oil and water.

Words are spoken here, but the table does not interpret the oracles too literally. It stays silent and holds itself up, laid.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Amongst all that is awake VI


one night it is the slender writing, unassuming, sloping, leaning over a dry page that I am suddenly full of tenderness for, its ambiguous utterances, marshaled in orderly fashion pointing to the right, towards the future, towards that which I can expect for myself and I am waiting, attentive to its opposing nature and force when it takes over the left hemisphere of the brain and corrects, trims, gives depth to that which I thought flat, flattens the most pompous declarations sentence by sentence, bears burdens, mixes together death and life, brings a kilo of butter, two pounds of oxtails, three nectarines and I wait obediently and it reels off the only thing I know anything about now: blue peak, yellow tooth, white feather, warning mouth. It asks, what is it that is important? and to be honest I feel it is best to answer ignorabimus, which means: that we will never know

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

the night you were born


nothing was bowed then, everything stood upright and stiff and trees outside welcomed bird after bird after bird, heavy water dropped from the trees, a bird flew up, the invisible weight of a late summer fell, the summer cuckoo was heard all night long, the night cauterized a piece of ice, the spring coat of green and verdigris was already being woven into the tree-trunks and complaint upon complaint was heard about the indissoluble union of all things, and the night smouldered with its low fire, constantly and like a blast furnace and maybe the sky itself escaped its own desolate abyss then, for everything-yes, everything finally loosened its bonds for us

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

night filter


from outer space the sun comes tumbling with
whole atmospheres, banners and brass ensembles in its train
but I've already been paid for, my crown has been bought
I hold it out like a child, although I feel pricking and cutting
the cells' intricate patterns are dispersed from their quiet, primeval      growth
explosions rip tissue to shreds and people fall everywhere
at the hands of strategists, for no reason
I gaze and gaze through the yellow night filter
wishful thinking takes over; perhaps they die honourably
in the struggle between good and evil?
I know nothing, am merely a particle
part of a gleaming trail of ice and gasses and divine hosts

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Aus der neuen Welt


The pulse is no longer at rest, the right elbow and lower arm of a left-handed player begin to throb. The ears are freed, are on a journey and there are cries of da capo.

The cellist gets up. Her taffeta dress swings as she greets the audience. She holds her instrument in front of her and her ash-blond hair falls down in front of her face, and the sound that only hundreds of hands can produce sets the blood circulation going and causes the faces of all the audience to flush. The one who is afflicted with gout forgets his torments. The manic one floats on the applause and will come and look for the first violinist behind the stage afterwards, offer champagne and pleasure trips. Hands, lifted high, cause programmes and pastilles to drop to the floor, fibres loosen from fabrics, thoughts work away. People whisper Slavonic names they cannot possibly have any natural knowledge of, and from the murky outer reaches of the memory images emerge: of plains, of wide Czech rivers and villages in autumn. Mighty theories of the world seem clearer. A fable begins to take shape: of bringing together a blind person and an invisible one. And dreams: of letting one's hands continue the conductor's movements in a semaphoring of enthusiasm. More cries of da capo, but those acclaimed give another deep bow and leave the hall for the last time and the applause gradually dies down.

For everything is brought to an end. Everything. Also the blood which will no longer coagulate when it is released but become foul-smelling water.

Music on the other hand belongs to a different regime and will continue to bring people clad in taffeta and silk to a state of readiness, and lead to euphoria, to sweet confusion.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Mojacar


the place presents its trees
its explosives: pomegranates, eroded Moorish towers and bones
sand-burst, sun-burst land
and I full of trust but ignorant of this area
ask for the moment to remain detonated
that I may become one of time's many victims
be exiled to the harshest of regions
not escape, but unfold wings, be ochre-dazzled
acquire a patinated memory

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Exit

Already the dark and endless ocean of the end
is washing in through the breaches of our wounds
already the flood is upon us.

     'The Ship of Death,' D.H. Lawrence


The last ages are a thing of the past and the stateliest of he-goats, peacocks and lions come out of the ark two by two. The scorpions are not depicted, they are outside the engraving and will continue their lives under stones and bite livestock and humans. Perhaps be caught in your scissor-claw, scorpion, within the reach of the deadly fandango of your tail, be exposed to your small twin-lobed brain, your neurotoxin and leave this world in the most violent of convulsions-melodramatic and fanciful to be sure, for the last day of life probably lies light-years in the future. In the meantime life will be a little cat on the doorstep, will be lost in the bushes, a little cat bloated with milk and oblivion and imperceptibly I may become a light in the scorpio constellation, not die of poison, of a pulmonary disease where the alveoli burst, not be denied free breathing in the crystal air of this world, not die in deep distress or a frontal collision, of insidious old age, by a knife, a rope round my neck, a stone that loosens from a balustrade. But this deathly confusion while still alive has no cure, only one exit and I see that the mountain is evasive, that the night robs the day of everything-its paths, its intimacy-and I understand that nothing can be three-dimensional and merry, that it can only with difficulty be transferred to the small canvas the brain has stretched out between birth and death, that the picture will forever be flat, that we will never enter elysium so full of promise, arbours, space behind space, that the verdigris green is perhaps but a shadow and the graves with figures, quotations and white plastic flowers a mockery of the ashes of the dead, which ought rather to have been scattered to the four winds.

Afterwards the atoms will take over and reinstate the troublesome soul, anchored this time in for example the almond grove, not so favourable for impatient travelers, but for me who would like to tarry a while beneath the slender tree-tops this can be the best solution.

Then I would be prepared to go to the dogs, or back to the fauna of the cave's darkness.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Miracle number seven


life is so confusing that several seasons that are of age have to be appointed guardians; they stride through abandoned terrain and you and I soon have twin-tissue, one eye in each forehead plus the senses; convicts on islands of lava, guests in hanging gardens-turned away or inwards they rise or fall heavily-the senses shred the days and nights until the heart overflows again, old-fashioned, disgraced, incurable over its banks, leaks down into the abdominal cavity and the tongue lolls, waits wide and mild, the eyes gaze and see nothing, only the familiar: weeds, the edges of the world's wounds, the enamel of the sky, but I lower my boat into this lake where you are holding flagellates and carp and are swimming around whole; I push my boat out and the waves turn, the sun spins, everything changes and miracle number seven occurs

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Small circuit


"--and someone has arranged it in such a way for them that the sun is first in the East, then the West, which is why ant and elk and fox arrange things for themselves in what remains. Wisely, they divide the forests between them and the forests let the cones call to the pine needles that the pine needles are part of the great murmuring and that the earth waits silent and fragrant. The earth cannot itself speak, but it allows everything to grow freely and waits in happy expectation for the carpet which will be spread out. In the forests the trees are the great magicians, they work shoulder to shoulder, open and close their crowns, send off seeds, catkins, bees, send sun down into the trunks, fetch out resin and stand motionless for a hundred years. They make places in the world, small and large castles, and light is the faithful servant that gives the trees green to parade with, brown bark to wear, the blue twilight to play with.

And what does light get in return? Well, all of this, as in a mirror."

I close the book I have been reading from in a whisper, look up.

The bed is empty, the child has gone, the night has taken it, as I thought it would.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Offensive from the proletariat


It feels as if I had blue blood in my veins
I must belong to the aristocracy, I hunt foxes and hares
acquire land, hold court
take over the gallery and stand on my rights,
but Death the proletarian stalks me close
there is a crack: an accidental shot, it merely grazes
but the red blood betrays me, my outermost layer smarts
and nobility becomes exposed to a double danger
so I cover the wound quickly,
so easy it has been to escape
I think, retake my place
and although since then I only give meagre alms,
the heavy, wealthy future shrinks and shrinks.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

here in the harbour


the vessel is old but in good shape, can of course go down out there, but here in the harbour it floats like a swan some people say, has trim lines that are commented on and admired and several people go on board, wearing bandoliers and bearing letters of safe conduct

the harbour is big, the moorings secure, the crew well-trained, but someone suddenly gives a stretch, yawning, unexpectedly, ill at ease in his linen trousers under the flaming red sky

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Method I


I study the photographs closely, the depictions of my own face; it was a small moon inspection, shiny as if nothing had happened. "If you cannot speak, you must remain silent," is what was said, I can remember that clearly, as well as "The world is beautiful on the outside, white and green and red, but inside it is black in colour and as dark as death." I grew up with such admonitions, but can no longer take them seriously. Now I prefer to prick up my ears, and have become a determined defender of the body's unruly chemistry. The supply of sounds that insist on leaving my throat is released, overreaches itself from time to time, its phonetic joints get dislocated, but my head can be unaffected, can quickly heal once more, can think about traveling to Warnem�nde. I don't know why, and perhaps I will carry it out without having a reason. The Baltic, the great inland ocean, may well show itself from its worst side, the spas will probably be dilapidated and no one in these parts can recall Edvard Munch in his striped bathing costume. The mornings are sure to be misty and pale and the coastline will appear different from below than from the air. Brackish water, obstinate residents, industry and deepfried food are sure to disappoint me. I really don't know why I want to go there. Things hang together differently than we imagine.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Method II


talk to the sun: do you remember, sun, when you burned a wound in a left shoulder, when Plato laughed, when you lazily flecked yourself under the oak tree, when a net was thrown over you and your sign was hewn in the mountain? I do not expect any answer and the sun makes off quickly westwards as if all this hung together in a fateful way. I make myself as hard as flint, scatter coins, atoms around me, crunch away at my small supply of sugar, go obediently to the room with acanthus vines, scurry in fact as soon as I am ordered to carry out the job; make white what should have been black, gild what should have been blackened, keep anything blue

see the day fall into the trap and guard one's own tissue

pay attention to the brief life

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

even the dervishes


the days balance inwards in us
long-suffering and airy with their odd
three-cornered hats askew, and we can't stop laughing
and fall and slide where it is crowded and slippery and gay
suddenly though they give a stretch and do arabic fly springs till
we regain our composure, we fall silent, hiccough and even
the dervishes stop spinning

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

From here, from inside the husk of the world


That law and enigma follow each other I can see from here, from inside the husk of the world, softly lined but slightly split open towards the green majesty where summer messengers bring fresh reports to the mind: fruit, seeds, a floor strewn with lilies.

Hearing over all hills, keen gaze sweeping over the brown earth, stones, sugar cane and weeds. Here I wreak havoc with iron constitution, with open mouth and choose you enlarged, and doubled we will swiftly move, like Greek gods through time and space.

For life is in my claws, in my great greedy jaws is an exultation; to be one flesh with the world's flesh, to drift under the water or on its surface, to freely assume new names:

Luz, Deepdark, Ganymede and Tintinnabulum.

Somewhere far ahead; a tract, a silver string broken and we are waiting in a small, compact queue, but before that, time will stream endlessly on.

 

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Ambush, December


High and reeling is the winter,
it fells violet mountains and causes voices to be raised.
Has the bondage of gravity finally been broken?
Please do not answer rhetorical questions, interrupt me now, early on
for the day so short, only the wallpaper blooms, thought is worn down,
coronary arteries, icebergs and oxygen flow freely.
All roads that lead to and from here are pitfalls.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Training to gallop


Outside a high wall the countryside spreads out; I want to go out to it;
fully equipped, like a centaur.
I capture the day, it is a restless full-blood, rears up
and suddenly the future is there trying to tame me,
but I am four-legged, quick-witted, get up speed and
propeller shafts, internal combustion engines and steel hull send me
     off
on a transatlantic trip
to continents, grass-heavy with horses.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

From the circus ring


I lie like a foetus, breathe in carbon dioxide, mutter about a flag, about bridge no. 87 and other traffic hubs. I dream about the metaphysics of animals; the goat knows all the stories from time immemorial, but holds its tongue, and in the circus ring a Norwegian wolf makes an appearance. Someone has crushed glass, it's the fakirs who have done so, they're in need of a new bed, or perhaps it's the angels-always trying to outshine. I wake up surrounded by walls, fabrics, woodwork and the day takes over, communicating in its quick, singing dialect:

 

while you live a woven fabric is stretched out, knotted in a tight braid of hemp, silk and Gordian knots, a net for you to fall into, to lie in-for you loosen from heavy trapezes, are in motion, dazzled, in brief flight, only connected by each day's wedding

 

I make a quick note of this, ruminating on the sword that is to cut these Gordian knots. There's a sound of rustling paper, you wake up and begin to tell of your childhood, something about a liveried chauffeur. I say I have to get up and do something useful, collect firewood for example, but I keep on lying there, continuing to speak singly and see double.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

After Hamelin


We pretend we can have everything we ask for:
Whipped cream and vanilla on the tongue
day-shelter, brief night-watches
a capacity to break into each other's lives fearlessly
a good government in power behind the forehead
days and nights protected beneath a fence of hissing anti-time.

Suddenly, though, evening is here.
We follow the pied-piper's flute
along the mossy paths away from the village.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

It is August


It is August, I study the map of Spain, the mountain ranges, the great dried-out rivers, the region of windmills, the border areas, the rugged Estramadura.

I look at the illustration Feeding the birds in winter. The crows, the nuthatches and the sparrows are shown, although faded. I study in general everything hanging on the walls in my light-filled room; faces and landscapes are framed as if that could help.

A long time has soon passed since I came into the world. I try to recreate this event, patient as a builder of model-planes; was it a milky-white and bloody battle, as in tai chi; or underwater pressure, incomprehensible, forgotten? I am full of guesses now, though deprived of all memories of emotions, stress and farewells.

I sit in my chair until it becomes dark, it is august, the sound of a dog carries, I regret the fact that logic is not my strong point. The dog approaches, snaps at me, is wiry and shaggy and in the prime of life. It noses its way forward, sniffs the air: Who's there? And I, who am of prime flesh, reply: nobody, nobody. I've got that from Odysseus, and feel it is as good an answer as any. I cover my throat, advance full of over-confidence and call out gently so as to calm it, throw a few bones out to keep it at a distance. Don't you do that I laugh at it, as if it was going to assault me with caresses, then a sharp warning comes from me: lie down, sit!-but it is unpredictable, does not lie on its back as I hope, but has a bite at me. For it is the dog of dogs, it has decked itself out in the skin of the future and I am its meek, certain prey.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Time for presents


I live most graciously and magnificently, and at the turn of the year it is time for presents-presents to Pater O, to Peter Pan, to mother, to the kind grand uncles and all my friends, we will live for ever.

I give them the presents of eternity: a wild beast's pelt, strong green lianas, I have tamed a little time for them, I light candles, bind the lianas, I read the texts, pause at the first paragraph, third line, chase off the hounds of hell, everything that can torment them, scatter magic words and devout prayers around me.

I take a zigzag route through the town, screw up my courage, look at them with something that must resemble the look of the gods, gentle, thunderingly gentle but death holds sway, offers the anti-present, the unacceptable, that which creates debt.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

This ideal moment


Happiness waits-elevated and grave.
I go to mass: Omnia vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori.
An adventurous life awaits me.
I do not waver in the face of it.
Someone says: Wait and see, but I do not wait.
I take the name Roslin.
Follow the guiding star.
Gain master energy.
Float freely in the world's palate.
Strange. This ideal moment persists.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

From now on


Against the wall the stove stands and decides. On the floor the chairs rule, upholstered, unruffled. I stand at the window and ask: Where are the dead and their souls?

A connection is loose. It can be reason that is roaming around with its gleaming, crazy look. I become highly demanding, insist on a defense being put up round me and my name, that burdens be taken from me, that the years that are to come be lengthened, that midsummer be stretched out to infinity, that a staircase is to lead away from here-upwards and upwards. Fortunately, you come in at the right moment and say that, despite everything, we have ready abilities, and that the days from now on will be divided into three delightful zones.

 

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Collection


1. A portrait of Giorgio De Chirico,
I have drawn it on the basis of a photograph.
His ear lobes were unusually large, presumably a manifestation of self- healing abilities.

2. Dice of bone and marble,
showing signs of use, have been cast across an oak table in front of the fire in the room where the members of the Hanseatic League tramped around in their primitive leather boots and the women prayed: "Mikael, Peter, Johannes, Andreas, Lavrans, Thomas, Olav, Klemet and Nikolas. All holy men, take good care of me by day and by night, my life and my soul."

3. two rolls of linoleum,
what am I to do with them? Difficult to answer, I can't bring myself to throw them out at any rate. The floors of the house have already got carpets, woodwork, are exposed to invisible wear. Perhaps I will remove the Turkish carpet with its imported cockroaches, admittedly it has a distinctive light yellow colour woven into it, but it collects dust; a nest of textile fibres, mites, hairs and skin cells. But it's out of the question, I bought it off Leila. She has woven it and sold it to me.

4. Mirrors were rare and expensive in the Middle Ages. Now they hang about the house and I often look into them, but not particularly inquiringly. They cause the rooms to expand, though only apparently and if I should remain standing in front of them, I do not see my own mirror image but normally veiled images of North African landscapes, mirages, sand, water beneath the soil. 5. The lupine seed rattle quietly.
Have lain in an envelope for three years. I had forgotten them. They were fetched from the dry slopes along the windswept coast. An orange container ship foamed its way forward across the horizon, you sat in the car and sang; there was so much oxygen there that we could have ascended into the air.

6. The heavy Buddha sculpture of stone.
Whoof. It was a dead weight to move around.

7. The washing machine,
white, chaste, masculine, faithful.

8. The same age as me, the tree.
I envy the tree. It is to guard the house. It lets everyone in, but keeps Astrea and Leda in their places, knows about the empty bird's eggs, the crow feathers, the steel pens, hundreds of handwritten letters, the films: Kodak 1958, Fujicolor 1979-and the garden party last year, admittedly not in the picture.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

fugue


november is unlocked
out gushes light, tropical rain, guts
summer's brittle life stipples into colourless winter
some poultry is hung upside down, a frozen piece of beef thaws slowly
inside the house style upon style prevails
false steps, unctuous outbursts
some lace here, a piece of tarnished silver there
the foremothers rule in the corners, a warm mezzo soprano entertains
outside the light becomes more and more drab, clings brazenly to the
     house

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

Universe I


I am firm and fluid, my wrists are smooth and without blemish, my body a heavy galaxy with fusions, tall skies, supernovas and arms and legs that are still bent at forty-five degree angles, I go here and there for other directions are without names, a shame and I am motionless for several light years, but the sun like me has had so many experiences, it breaks through once more and I stretch my muscles, paint a bit with yellow and zinc white and daydream again of pepper bushes and flamenco dancing, of you and me

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 


Torild Wardener

We begin to stammer


We leaf through 'Das ewige Antlitz,' a book with photographs of death masks.

The features of Napoleon and Beethoven in particular soften the unease roused by the other photos, it looks perhaps as if for them the battle has been won.

We are visibly relieved, we sit in the shade of the gingko tree and talk to each other in our mixed languages: about the course of the river in a bird's eye view, certain unhappy people who take revenge for the strangest of reasons, glistening slate and spotted orchis.

We have surrendered to the heat and the strange landscape gazes at us.

We sit in the shades, close to a bulwark of light, red sand and lizards, and the weight of childhood causes our feet to swell, makes great gaps in memory and we begin to stammer about the snow-clad mountains back home, the beetle in the bird's beak, the sea that washes and washes.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

danger of explosion


I am standing out on the headland and the air runs amok within me, I let it wreak havoc, the smooth mountain supports me, it is spring, I cannot stop it, chlorophyll and light are all-powerful, there is a great danger of explosion and my senses run off, full of joy, squealing they are bawling away today, pile up massive receivers for the whispering sea, the sea birds wheel overhead, dive, grab hearing in their orange jabbering beaks and fly off, higher and higher

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 



Torild Wardener

The drift of days and nights


To constantly have the specific weight of days and nights hanging round my neck like a heavy fine stone is a blessing for me-I who otherwise would have been airborne.

Nighttime is best, when the star-stitches loosen, enabling the flying carpet to land.

It is deep-blue lying and dreaming on after the day's toil-and deserved, for the day-scalpel cuts out all sorts of rubbish, excises dreams; they are stuffed into the cabinet that is already full of palefaces, shellfish, catalogues, tirades and disconnected words such as hawk upon hawk, fire upon fire. In the morning, when the forces of law and order lead me away, I do not exactly protest, but am not a time-saver either, for the whole day is spent earning a living, holding on to my companions, calming disturbances, tidying up in the cabinet.

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 

 



Torild Wardener

you and the tiny heart siskin

                                For Elise

in you looms the mountain
the primeval shadows cast,
but the tiny fluttering heart siskin
and you yourself are young and rising
the valley beneath you is full of light
of Schubert songs and golden crops
and you're in the midst of the gold-dust day
in the midst of the celebrated season, the best century
and you're borne so easily in the warm wind
soar high with the tiny heart siskin
and forget you have a body
forget the mountain has a raven

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)



Torild Wardener

we upset the deep-sea sounder


we are conceived several times
we have lived long, our cells have been through explosions
have multiplied night-dark, have leaked light, phosphorus

there are crashes as in thunderstorms, everything comes to an end, death waits anew and anew and assumes the form of a fish or hunter or water and we upset the deep-sea sounder in the commotion, but it has no consequences for us, everything only appears yet clearer: our deep-red interior, the alleged atmosphere, unknown languages that sound their words against sandy sea-beds, against our finely tooled brains

(Translated from the Norwegian by John Irons)

 


 

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