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The Whales in Paris

Pia Tafdrup

Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012.

Translated from Danish by David McDuff:
The Whales in Paris
It’s probably not Paris that the whales sing about in the great oceans,
but the city is beautiful this morning, where I wake up
after dreaming about ton-heavy, cavorting whales.
On all sides they swam, the gigantic creatures,
my only salvation in the rough sea
was to grab hold of their tails, which were so slippery
that my hands slid the moment the whales altered course
or flapped their tails hard, hurling me far away,
but each time I swam back, grabbed hold again
and in this way managed to survive all night...
On the wall opposite I see now that it’s a brilliant morning,
the greetings of the birds suggest the same,
the whales are gone, a woman moves from window to window,
raising the Venetian blinds and opening the windows ajar,
–  this I enter in my dream journal.
The sun falls into the woman’s kitchen,
where she walks around putting heaps of clothes together.
Each day our lives are invented;
a so far new combination of the known and unknown,
will perhaps arise today ---
it depends on what falls into our minds,
falls into us, embraces us with memory-deep gaze,
when we seek an entrance to something
                                                that is freedom for the soul ---
and will tolerate no limit other than the open sky.