Travel Light

Travel Light
~Pia Tafdrup, translated by David McDuff

 

By all means take my suitcase, which now again

is too heavy to carry – packed with

nightdress, piles of underwear and socks,

dresses, skirts, belts,

blouses with short and long sleeves,

sweaters, jerseys, long pants,

thermal or swimwear, shoes

for walking, running, shoes

for dresses, trousers, boots, sandals,

toiletries for almost any

conceivable situation,

umbrella, sun hat, sunscreen

(high factor), lip balm

(also high factor), reading

for changing moods,

matches, candles, address list,

alarm clock (though the phone has an alarm),

water heater, favourite tea, travel mug,

hairbrush, hair dryer, hair spray,

jacket, hat, gloves, scarves,

all carefully stacked

like the words here, in order to give

at least an illusion of order.

And for special expeditions:

drops, sterile syringes,

chlorhexidine, plaster, paraghurt,

penicillin, sulfa tablets,

imodium, milk of magnesia,

mosquito balsam, mosquito spray, iodine…

Not to mention the hand luggage

with the most indispensable items:

Passport, tickets, money, travel insurance,

reading glasses, cell phone, computer,

phrasebook, map, compass, diary,

notebooks, paper, pen, mechanical pencils,

camera, adapter, possible special medications,

toothbrush, makeup and extra clothes

for if the suitcase is delayed or lost.

I have packed for tomorrow –

but yesterday travels back with me in a mess

of dusty shoes, broken shoelaces, the clothes

with dirt and stains,

strange, indefinable odours, immediately

registered by the cat,

and gifts that must be unwrapped carefully.

 

 

Travel Light

Tag gerne min kuffert, der nu igen

er for tung at bære – pakket med

natkjole, bunker af undertøj og strømper,

kjoler, nederdele, bælter,

bluser med korte og lange ærmer,

sweaters, trøjer, lange bukser,

termotøj eller badetøj, sko

til at vandre i, løbe i, sko

til kjoler, til bukser, støvler, sandaler,

toiletsager til næsten enhver

tænkelig situation,

paraply, solhat, solcreme

(med høj faktor), læbepomade

(ligeledes med høj faktor), rejselekture

til skiftende sindsstemninger,

tændstikker, stearinlys, adresseliste,

vækkeur (skønt mobilen har alarm),

dypkoger, yndlings-te, rejsekrus,

hårbørste, hårtørrer, hårspray,

jakke, hue, handsker, tørklæder,

alt sammen omhyggeligt stablet

som ordene her, for i det mindste

at give en illusion om orden.

Og til særlige ekspeditioner:

drop, sterile injektionssprøjter,

klorhexidin, plaster, paragurt,

penicillin, sulfatabletter,

imodium, magnesia,

myggebalsam, myggespray, jod …

For slet ikke at tale om håndbagagen

med det mest uundværlige:

Pas, billetter, penge, rejseforsikring,

læsebriller, mobiltelefon, computer,

parlør, kort, kompas, dagbog,

notesbøger, papir, pen, stiftblyanter,

kamera, adapter, eventuel særlig medicin,

tandbørste, makeup og ekstra tøj,

hvis kufferten forsinkes eller forsvinder.

Jeg har pakket til i morgen –

men i går rejser med tilbage i ét rod,

støvede sko, knækket snørebånd, tøjet

med snavs og pletter,

fremmede, udefinerbare lugte, straks

registreret af katten,

og gaver, der skal pakkes varsomt ud.

 

 

Pia Tafdrup is a Danish poet and writer and member of the Danish Academy and the European Academy of Poetry. Among several prizes, she received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 1999 and the Nordic Prize in 2006 from the Swedish Academy. Tafdrup has published fourteen collections of poetry, including Spring Tide (Forest Books, 1989), Queen’s Gate (Bloodaxe, 2001), and Tarkovsky’s Horses (Bloodaxe, 2010). She has also published a statement of her poetics, Walking over the Water, two plays, and two novels. Her poems are translated into more than thirty languages. English translations of her poems have been published in more than sixty literary journals in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. She is profiled in Thousandborn: The Poet PiaTafdrup (Cosmo Film a/s).

David McDuff is a British literary translator and editor. His translations include works of nineteenth-century Russian fiction in Penguin Classics (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Leskov) as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century Scandinavian poetry and prose.

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