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by Henrik Nordbrandt


translated from the Danish by Thom Satterlee

I had almost fallen asleep
when a black feeling
leaped in among the white ones
that were just starting to take shape.

It was as violent as an earthquake
but more permanent.
Everything stiffened. Everything cracked.
My life turned into a fresco.

A thousand-year imprisonment
lay behind me
and I could move myself again.

What does it matter that you’re lying
in another person’s arms?

I have to leave anyway.

Outside of that dark,musty space
water flows in sunlight.
The bright woods go out to the sea

and at night
the young flirt on the bridges.

Tonight my sleep will be as light
as the shadow
of a white stone on the bottom.


Henrik Nordbrandt has published over twenty volumes of poetry and is considered one of the leading contemporary Danish poets. In 2000 he received the Nordic Prize, one of many honors awarded to his work. Nordbrandt currently lives in Turkey. (4/2005)

Thom Satterlee has translated the Danish poet Henrik Nordbrandt for the past ten years. Individual translations have appeared in journals such as Seneca Review, Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. In 2003 Green Integer published his collection of translations, The Hangman’s Lament: Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt. (4/2005)

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