Hay

They turned the sea I know into blocks. Large stacks of hay, a meter or more taller than I am, piled onto each other. It looked like a Salvador Dali painting.

The sky still looking like it does over the sea, low clouds rolling over and over themselves like little kids. The trees still standing upright and fair, quoifed and poised women. The islands of lilacs, wildflowers and bushes naked as ever, home to a shipwrecked refugee or a hundred messages in bottles.

But the sea, now it’s all ontop of itself. It has sharp corners, it’s bound with twine. It’s just as tall as it once was wide. And they’re slowly taking it away.

Advertisements

Window into the Courtyard

I remember when I arrived here, the ghosts of renovations past were apparent. The room I was staying in had an ornate door directly opposite the door to the rest of the house. The brass handle had some use, and the lock was functional. If I kept it open, I could sit out on the concrete stoop and watch the black flies bound into my room and stare at the taller-than-me wild grasses.  Although it was not a big area, looking out among the lilacs and the bushes, watching the spiders crawl between nettles and vines, it was almost metropolitan.

Then one day, I was given the task of scything down the micro-forest. With each slice I made the reeds lay. Perfect ontop of each other. While the grass they were laying down on would remain green, what was ontop was going to dry up to a scratchy yellow within a day.

Now the courtyard is a place for ornamentals. Plants that look deceptively tropical fill each corner, giant pale pink bell-flowers arch over the entrance. I can finally see into the other houses, watch everyone eat dinner and cast silhouettes of forks against their windows.

Duplicity

The Danish Landscape is a chameleon. Using the sun as what drives it’s change, the moods evoked from it are at opposite ends of a spectrum. On any given cloudy day, walking along the road that heads to Lyndholm, to look out at the fields upon fields of grain,  with patches bent eerily bent over, it almost looks post-apocalyptic.  Everytime I pass by, I question whether those stalks that are lying down were put to sleep by natural forces or by something from the beyond.

But on a sunny day, the whole field gains the sun itself. Grain that I thought was grey before has now turned into the photo that you see on the back of a cereal box. Everything is swinging, nodding, happy. I do the same. Happily, in unison. I walk, we dance.

While the clouds would shroud my view before, of the floating willow trees and hills of shrubbery, it all seems to be waving hello to me under the high Danish sun. The blue of the sky providing a perfect backdrop to marvel at the cultivation.

Distribution

What is new blends seemlessly in with the old.
I have a friend who is a thatcher, who actually has too much work.
Too many requests.

The praise of anything fifteenth century is deep.
The love of the land, the love of the heritage.
It’s a battle, but desperate is not the word to describe it.

While the world hurdles forward with everything tall, metal and paved,
Denmark is an oasis. A proud, proud place.
Specifically the country side.

Allan, my host, complains because people buy houses around here, mow down the land, and just keep it so. Big, blank, and plain. He says that no one is doing anything with their acres. That it’s kept just green is such a pity.

That’s the only thing to complain about. Not that business parks and strip malls are encroaching on his gardens.

Hegnstrup, the farm where I’m staying, is a puddle of biodiversity. So close to Copenhagen, this is a watering hole for the naturalists, science lovers and butterfly watchers.

So many hedges to hide in, so many thistles to avoid. There’s a bonfire weekly, where everyone gathers in their homespun dresses and shirts, and sing folk songs from when their great grand parents were children.

There are islands like this everywhere, in this country and outside of it. Alliances are formed, connections are made, the pools of lavender know where the other pools of lavender are.

Finding something to hold on to…

At first it was the windows of French, German and Danish books that intimidated me. I was not about to go in to any store and ask for an all-access-pass to the metropolitan literary scene.

I spent my first couple of trips nervously pacing around the shops. Placing my fingers on books with vague covers and words I didn’t understand on them. Eyeing all the walls, I realized after one trip, that I didn’t know the words for “writing” “poetry” or “meeting” in Danish. My resourcefulness led me to the reference section of one international book store, where I picked out a dictionary to assist me.

None of the posters were advertising for any meet ups in most places I went to. Lots of “Learn this language, now!” and “Book Sale next weekend” but no poesi. It was hard-pressed to get any information out of store clerks either. Most knew of some, but they were small and mostly in Danish, or had already passed/were at an unaccesible time.

One place I found a glimmer of hope was a poetry reading on a Thursday night at the infamous Copenhagen Jazz house. Although I was hesitant to pay the 50DKK (approx 10 USD) entry fee (shouldn’t art be free!?) I did anyway, and walked in. Again, intimidated by everything that was European and sophisticated, and the sheer history of this place, I sat down, alone. Ordered a drink, took out my notebook, and sat back to listen.

The attendance was small, and the readings were dramatic. While poetry has some affect based solely on it’s cadence, a lot of it is in the language and word choice. Listening to Danish poetry is like how some people describe astrophysics. You have an object behind a curtain, and you have a semi-automatic in your hand. You can’t see the object, but you can shoot at it until you think you have a clue.

I was shooting at what I understood, and not really hitting anything. Basic things I could grasp were what I was grabbing from the audience: if the laughed, it was funny. If they sighed, it was poignant. If the clapped, it was good (I think.) Never in my life have I been disinterested by poetry, but this just felt so disconnected. I felt so distant, I had to leave.

From what I heard and saw, it didn’t seem that different from what is going on the U.S. People who have written a few personal poems, suddenly think they’re the next Neal Cassady, and present their writing as such. Maybe I was being judgemental and ignorant, but the room felt stifled with names, egos and stigma.  The Jazz house is a world famous venue, and all the celebrity face lining the walls would tell you so.  

I don’t think I found anything real or revolutionary that night in Copenhagen. I’m not sure if there is a burgeoning writing community at all. What I did find, was a funny connection to everything else: the collective consciousnessof poets and the lingering influence of berets, bongos and Buicks driving across the countries. That even thousands of miles away, the “American Cool” is still the standard.

Pantoum

the golden cones of dirty weeds
they wisp in the wind as I ride
standing up against carved out sides
and drinking up quarry water

They wisp in the wind as I ride
the bugs they breathe into me
and drink up the quarry water
as I ebb and flow toward the sea

The bugs they breathe into me
whispers of the history they’ve seen
as I ebb and flow toward the sea
the gradient of the land is normal.

Whispers of the history they’ve seen
only slightly longer than my own
The gradient of this land is normal,
to their eyes, green, brown to gold.

Only slightly longer than my own
Soft hills roll on towards nothing special
The gradient of this land is normal,
majesty not striking an ant

Soft hills roll on towards nothing special,
the people pale and commonplace
Majesty is not striking an ant
While cell phones and gas stations do

The people pale and commonplace
Average characters on an average backdrop
While cell phones and gas stations do
what could be beauty in disaster

Average characters on an average backdrop
blind reverence for an inherited space
What could be beauty in disaster
taking grasp of blue sky

Blind reverence for an inherited space
grass lined like teeth on a comb
taking grasp of blue sky
and the non-descript trees, too.

Grass lined like teeth on a comb
the golden cones of dirty weeds
And the non descript trees, too.
standing up against carved out sides.

Cow

Sitting on the corner of edibles and danger, I try not to pick either. The raspberry plants are behind me and there are open fields to my left and right. I face the cows, the hedgerows, the horses and the sun.

I try my hardest not to pick any path to follow with my eyes and soak up the entire scenery. Even though it’s a Sunday the bugs have already headed to work. Briefcases in hand, routine stops are made at all the flowers.

Unfamiliar ferns stare me down, guarding the Queen Magrethe of the hedge row. A tower of leaves, trimmed perfectly and stretching out to the pastures as far as I can see. They won’t let me get past, but I don’t necessarily want to.

The air softly breathes onto me. Warm and light, the lightness and the warmth lifting my spine straight and tilting my face to the sky. Out goes one breath, in comes another. I let my body succumb to what’s happening around me.

Tired legs and worn hands are just waiting for the bathtub water basin to be filled.

Then the sun is tackled, and I have to tilt my chin down again. I turn to my left slowly.

Standing next to me, her flies becoming my flies, is a cow. One of the mothers, she’s searching for the grass and the flowers. Maybe some of those lovely ferns, too. A slow, calculated turn of the head. She’s spotted me. She’s a beautiful color, brown like rust and slick in the sunshine.  Not too big, but big enough to kill me if she wanted too.

My eyes are locked on hers… a melodramatic mother on daytime television. She looks like she just found out her daughter is actually not her daughter, but her brother’s long-lost son. I can hear the water overflowing, and I get up to shut it off.

She runs, and behind the regal hedges I hear all the others get the news.

 The galloping, the spookiness of it all. She says, “Someone just stood up, and they’re going to eat our children.” All the other cows say, “Oh no! Oh no!”

And they run, wild and free. As free as they can be in a fenced in pasture. I can’t see them, but their footsteps yell safety and organization. Their footsteps yell the rallying cries of a creature trying to survive. And I turn off the water and walk away with a love for the day.