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22 article(s) translated from Norwegian

A Telephone Conversation

Dear little squirrel, can you hear me, do you understand what I say when I talk to you, can you feel me lifting you, as we cross the yard together in order to bury you in the ditch where the soil is soft and black, do you hear the insects, the breath of wind, do you think; what is eternity? What does eternity mean? Maybe the fleeting shadow when a plane passes, the sluggish rain. Can you perceive that I’m thinking about you, about how you no longer exist, that you no longer...

Impromptu

When the snow covers your grave you have forgotten the snow. Translation of “Impromptu.” Copyright 1994 by Rune Christiansen. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Agnes Scott Langeland. All rights reserved.

The Dogs in Thessaloniki

We had our morning coffee in the garden. We scarcely said a word.  Beate got up and put the cups on a tray.  We might as well put the chairs up on the veranda, she said.  What for? I said.  It looks like rain, she said.  Rain? I said, there's not a cloud in the sky.  There's a nip in the air, she said, can’t you feel it?  No, I said. Maybe I’m wrong, she said.  She went up the veranda steps and into the living room. I remained...

Gob

I saw her again today. She came out from the liquor store in Majorstua, the bottles pushed down into a worn brown bag, and I sensed shame, shame is the only word I can use—shame. It was twenty years since I’d seen her last. Georg and I had been to the Frogner Baths. We’d taken the plunge from the tenth board for the first time and were a bit sore. But we were walking on air—by heck were we—we were world champs. Some girls from the same year at school had been standing by the...

Martin Hansen’s Outing

Walking back to the house one Friday in early August, late in the afternoon, I suddenly felt tired as though I had been carrying something heavy, although all I had been doing was tying up some raspberry stakes. When I reached the stoop, I sat down on the bottom step, thinking: After all there's no one at home anyway. A moment later I heard voices coming from inside the living room, and before I had time to get to my feet, my daughter Mona said: Oh, are you sitting here? I stood up...

from “Black Sky, Black Sea”

May 1977 The Byzantine aqueduct stretched from the houses by the fire station over the boulevard and then curved in toward the back of the city theater. Four lanes of traffic flowed under its still solid arches. Saraçhane Square lay in the middle of a park by the same name, surrounded by the ruins of the aqueduct, the Şehzade Mosque, and the City Hall. It was a bustling and lively area, with public offices, theaters, cinemas, and thundering traffic. But the most remarkable...

MS Hitra

Captain Jonasen followed the dotted line in the atlas with his finger. What he would do after Buenos Aires he didn't know. As far as he was concerned life could end there. He closed the atlas with a bang and lit his pipe. It would soon be midnight and it was dark in the captain's cabin. He listened and waited. But no engines started up. All he could hear was the wind whistling through the air vent. And he didn't know exactly what he was in fact waiting for any more, either. He...

The Pig

Asbjørn Hall was admitted to an Oslo hospital on December 4th, 2003, for an intestinal operation, a rather unpleasant business no one would look forward to. But Asbjørn Hall was seventy-eight and had never been ill before, barring minor complaints such as colds, toothache, and the occasional hangover. For that reason he realized now this was no more than to be expected; that's not saying he saw this as some punishment for a long and godless life—no, Asbjørn...

Dr. Gordeau

I When the plane has almost come to rest, he sees an angel. The angel is sitting right at the back of the small baggage train on its way across the runway. A young man. Or a woman? Longish hair. His eyes. Frightened? Happy? Is he raising his hand? The next time he looks out, the case the angel was sitting on has fallen off. The baggage train continues on its unsteady journey. The case is black. Locked. The kind that holds a musical instrument. The plane follows a course of red and...

How Is One to Hang Up?

It should be well known that the voices can be piercing, but they also have inside curves I can't negotiate They run rings around me, I can't take them I grow smaller and rounder at the edges with each day I listen and listen I'm the switchboard for sensitive words What am I to say into seven lines at the same time? My head whirrs, thoughts a mess, speech mangled in a maze of angles Whether someone's phishing by phone? Whether someone's messing up my...

Let the Small Words Come to Me

Let the small words come to me Don't let the demanding ones stop them If I get everything I have a right to, but not love, then I get too little Praised be the children I will never have enough of Praised be the children I will never have Praised be life that I cannot invent Praised be poems that I cannot write Let the small words come to me For the author's "How Is One to Hang Up?" please click here.

from “Out Stealing Horses”

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July. Three years earlier the Germans had left, but I can't remember that we talked about them any longer. At least my father did not. He never said anything about the war. Jon came often to our door, at all hours, wanting me to go out with him: shooting hares, walking through the forest in...

Ambulance

I'm lying on my back in the ambulance, firmly strapped to the stretcher and we're driving very fast through town, somebody's placed an oxygen mask over my mouth, and the man sitting next to me in a red and yellow jacket, who goes constantly from watching me to watching his bleeping instruments, asks me if I can hear him, but doesn't wait for an answer, and he flicks various switches, attaches things to my body, to my chest, he yells out to the ambulance driver, "Faster,...

The Bergkvist Sisters

  I've had a lot of time lately, and I've been thinking about the King and Queen. They were Crown Prince and Princess then, of course, but what if they hadn't had a son second time around? Would they have just had to keep going? There's got to be a boy after all, hasn't there, a future king? Imagine the Crown Princess after giving birth eight times, after the eighth girl she'd have looked totally exhausted. That's how things were for Ellen anyway....

Today You Must Pray to God

One morning the teacher came in for the first class, sat down heavily on the chair behind his desk, looked around the room, and said: "Today you must pray to God, for today a nuclear war will probably break out." He cleared his throat, drew a breath, and said: "Nuclear war" once more, his double chin wobbled, and silence fell on the room. Nuclear war. Arvid had heard them talking about that at home so he knew what it meant. It meant curtains for everyone, in earnest. Uncle Rolf...

The Fatherland

Do not despair, my friend: The light that shines on our land will remain chaste. We still have time. Maybe next year, the year after- it will be enough. We will see the new face of Eban smiling over our lives. This land is good and its history teaches us we must not despair. This land is happy. Look, see the girls painting their cheeks? This land is continuously giving birth. Yemen is a happy country, the people die standing tall: they will not cower,...

Another Sky

An asphalt sky: your memory Your earth is only a body Time is a poem approaching Time is a poem withering Time is a poem dying & time is a wailing wall for poems and dreams Such is exile Your bottlenecked bottleneck The wounded Fatherland's open sores moaning within you An asphalt sky: your memory Your earth is only a body

from “Identity”

You who will murder me, wait. Look into my eyes before you begin—or end— It's the same for me. It might be that you reconsider. You, who are formed by remorse whose breath is the issue of accident, imbibing the world's desiccation, wait a moment! Now, this may be enough: to read the soft body tortured by your wrath, to look at the memories hidden in my eyes, the moon's stories. * * * You, who will murder me, I have hidden my identity in my eyes. My last wish is...

The Wound

"The sun also shines from here", his finger pointing to his heart his eyes rimmed with tears For the next poem in this sequence, click here.

Chlorine

I have been weighed and found wanting. It's nearly two o'clock, the last lesson of the day, and I am standing at the back of the diving board, right on its edge, and in front of me are the others, others who are going to dive, and soon it will be my turn. But it's impossible. Come what may. I know it. But I've got to do it. This is the final dress rehearsal. The last chance but one. I must walk out onto the diving board, bend my knees and push out with all my strength,...

To

And our house is down there too. See it, down there? There, just behind the school, there, I say pointing, but nobody answers, and when I stop talking I can hear only the sound of air around me, wind, it's blustery and I zip up my jacket, peer over the edge, it's a long way down, and there below me the lights have come on, and I turn up the gas so that the balloon keeps rising, it's not snowing, I am on the way up, the snow has stopped and below me, down there, is the...

Waterproof

Each day that whole summer, apart from the week when she was to learn to swim, Andrea stood at the quay and waited as the Prince drew in to land. It wasn't the passengers she wanted to see, as they came along the gangway with all their luggage-cases, rucksacks, and great parcels from town wrapped in brown paper. It wasn't the ice-cream man who held an interest for her, the man who used fingerless gloves and put on a hat with earflaps each time he opened the freezer that he called...

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