Home with H

Translated from Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy

 

 

 

 

Especially in spring
in a large party it is clear
which persons
are closest to death:

They don’t know why they avoid
each other’s gaze

One stares himself blind at a spot on the wallpaper
another imagines some yellow flowers
on the background of a black ditch
in order not to turn
and look into the eyes of the first.

The third opens a window
so the light of sunset
for a second is reflected and falls into the room.

I came to think about that
when I walked out in the woods
and thought of a painting by Hammershøi:
Death is at home in a room
with high, white panels.

Outdoors it is uncertain.

And everywhere there are loopholes
so you can slip past it
or hide behind a tree
until it is over.

 

 

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Henrik Nordbrandt published his first collection, Poems, in 1966 at the age of twenty-one. Since then he has published more than thirty-five books, primarily collections of poetry, but also essays, a novel, a memoir, a children’s book, and a Turkish cookbook. In 1980, Nordbrandt was awarded The Danish Academy Prize and in 2000 the Nordic Council Literary Prize — the highest distinction a poet can receive in the five Nordic countries — for his collection, Dream Bridges.

 

 

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Thomas E. Kennedy’s thirty books include, most recently, his Copenhagen Quartet: In the Company of Angels, Falling Sideways, Kerrigan in Copenhagen, and Beneath the Neon Egg. He has also published Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories, 1982–2012. His stories, essays, and translations appear regularly and have won an O. Henry and Pushcart Prize and a National Magazine Award. His translation of “Home with H” was published in TLRs 2013 Summer issue, Scenester.

TLR Scenester Summer 2013 issue cover