I always rejoice when I miss my train in Roskilde. I get to go over to the cemetery across the station. There I wait for the next train. Pondering. Some like balance, but balance doesn’t suit them when what they want is either the hot or the cold. Either the one or the other, yet both at the same time. Only a master can make sense of walking in the beauty of such contradiction. But then again, who is a master? For most, balance is nothing but a higher order of ambivalence. Or lower. I look around. A good time for mushrooms. The intelligence of pigs comes to mind. Pigs are both fertile and destructive at the same time. They reproduce joyfully and can eat their offspring. Life and death. Pigs are not concerned with what fire you feed. What ice you drink, and whether you can do both at the same time. They are little machines, sometimes commanding their heartbeats to find a truffle. The one special mushroom to uncover, to behold, and to adore. But they are not always in the position to eat it. Sometimes they let it go to the highest bidder at the auction. Some exchange. A passion for a coin. I think of the life of the truffle. A few more minutes to my train. I look at the entrance to this place. I forgot to salute the first dead buried here, now guarding the gate. I’m convinced she was a Queen of Hearts who died in Autumn from thinking too much. A Queen of Hearts who could reason her emotions. How perplexing. At least she got style. At least she never said to herself: 'I only did certain things so that I can regret them.'

I leave the cemetery with the Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska’s ‘A few Words on the Soul’ in mind. It’s obvious that you cannot step twice into the same death.

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

(Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)


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