Down in the basement I couldn’t see a thing
because, I discovered, I had my sunglasses on.
When I finally took them off
I threw them from me in a rage.
Now I sit and can’t make out the sea
because I have my reading glasses on.
And I can’t read what I’ve written
because the sun’s too bright.
Out of stubbornness I keep my reading glasses on
will get me to go down in the basement after the sunglasses!
That’s my life. That’s all of our lives.
That’s how the war continues.
Henrik Nordbrandt has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and is considered one of the leading contemporary Danish poets. In 2001 he received the Nordic Prize, one of many honors awarded to his work. Nordbrandt currently lives in Turkey. (updated 2005)
Thom Satterlee translated, from the Danish, The Hangman’s Lament: Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt (Green Integer, 2003) and two collections of the poet Per Aage Brandt: These Hands (HOST, 2011) and If I Were a Suicide Bomber & Other Verses (Open Letter, 2017). His individual translations have appeared in Seneca Review, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. (updated 10/2018)