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from the April 2021 issue


A tenuous link between the corporeal and spiritual forms the backdrop of Haukur Ingvarsson's poem about our relationship to the changing natural world, from his 2018 collection Ecostentialism.


Words Without Borders · Haukur Ingvarsson reads part IV of "Allt Sekkur" ("Sinkings")

Listen to Haukur Ingvarsson read part IV of "Sinkings" in the original Icelandic.


Words Without Borders · Haukur Ingvarsson reads part V of "Allt Sekkur" ("Sinkings")

Listen to Haukur Ingvarsson read part V of "Sinkings" in the original Icelandic.


Words Without Borders · Haukur Ingvarsson reads part VI of "Allt Sekkur" ("Sinkings")

Listen to Haukur Ingvarsson read part VI of "Sinkings" in the original Icelandic.



the world of the mind
has its own topography
netted to the body

you take a sharp turn
in the inner ear
and end up in the eustachian tube

for some reason I feel
this must be Denmark

farms of windmills
stalks of wheat toss
gently in the wind

the trees whisper
light ripples through wine in a glass
and glistens on white teeth
when she tilts
her head back
and laughs
hair flowing

Memory or imaginary?
Is it a painting on a postcard? greeting from an old aunt?


the glacier is black
polar bears run on hot sand


I am all-seeing
on the sofa

into my thoughts

circle a blurry center
like goldfish in a bowl

should I scrub the tank?
is the water too cruddy?
with unwelcome life?

worry spirals
stunned into inaction

maybe they’re hungry?
could they survive in the wild?
should I set them free?

I have a secret
a ship sank inside me

I saw the wreck
saved nobody

I heard the screams
the horrible uproar
then, a big silence

ear-splitting silence

I’m going to dive
down to the wreck
check the cabins
shine the soft shaft of a flashlight
into that deep down darkness
and unlock secrets

of the dead
of the living
of the living dead

impossible to imagine
a tomb
more lavish
equipped with all conveniences

chairs stacked on deck
unopened casks of rum
Malibu in the messhall
if I came across a tiny umbrella
I’d mix myself a drink

I must be dreaming

this stateless ship
was on its way nowhere
but down

maybe it wasn’t a ship
but a rubber dinghy

so did it only happen
inside me?

didn't it happen
someplace else
out there
where you’re sitting?

yes, you

in which case, it’s none of my business,
it’s yours

I’ll tell you one thing
nothing frightens me more
than the open sea
and the abyss

think about that and
that dinghy

see it for yourself
and tell me
am I on


I have
growing concerns
about the rising
sea level

I live on the fourth floor

I live by the ocean

in the basement
of my complex
I’ve got a storage space

where I keep
this and that
dear to me

and I don’t want
them to get wet

I have, for example
a new-ish bicycle
rustproof carbon
but I’d bet
its nuts and bolts
would corrode
if the sea sunk it
up to the handlebars

and my family
pictures, small things
that can’t be forgotten

no, they cannot be forgotten

like that summer in Algarve, years ago
when I bought my first Walkman
spooled with Michael Jackson
rechargeable batteries

it’s all in storage
I can see it
as I wind my thoughts
through the dim hall downstairs
and turn the key to the doors

yes, I see now
storage is the analog of memory
when I turn the light
on the flood
of clutter

memories pour over me

I bathe in them
sink into the papers, crates, photos
slip into the past

this is a past
I want to preserve
for the next generation

it’s my gift to the future
to humanity
to humanness

with pomp and circumstance
I’ll pass down this trove
to the children of the future
to steward
when that future arrives

and then I’ll say
like the Danish sailor who returned Iceland’s national treasures:
“Værsågod Bad med Michael Jackson.”

“Allt Sekkur,” from Vistarverur. © 2018 Haukur Ingvarsson. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2021 by Meg Matich. All rights reserved.

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