One of Us Is Sleeping - EXCERPT
The light comes creeping in over the ploughed fields. Slabs of dark clay soil thrust up in disorder, bull calves fighting in the stalls, the thud of too much body in a space too small. And the snow, so gently it lies now, upon the ridges; upon the landscape, everything living and everything dead. A coat of cold, a deep, reassuring voice. The landscape, naked, unsentimental. Here is the feeling of missing you, though no one to miss.
A landscape of lace that is frost.
The landscape is the same, and yet the landscape is never the same. Where have I been, I ask myself. My lower lip has burst like the skin of a ripe plum. Falling on the patio, knees and the taste of iron; lying on the concrete behind the rectory, waiting for the tractor to return home with the first load; if we’re not up and gone we’ll be in trouble. The way they come driving; hunch-backed trailers. One afternoon we’re friends enough to play; we leap among the stacked bales. Fall down in between and you’ll die of starvation. Like the cat we find, but that’s not until autumn. So it hadn’t abandoned its litter at all.
The path leading off behind the rectory fields peters out at the boundary that cuts through the conservation area, the croplands, acreage lying fallow. So much depends on it. Order. There’s always a man gathering up stones in the field; new ones always appearing, the earth gives birth to them and the piles grow large. Here and there, bigger rocks lie waiting to be collected by the tractor. When the time comes. Perhaps one of the boys will do it. Or perhaps the job is too big for them. The sun goes down behind the dolmen, which is older than the pyramids. So they say. How old is that, one wonders. Brothers have no age beyond the years that divide them. My sisters and I, one age; we become no older than we were.
The glacial landscape, the kettle holes where the ice forced the land into different positions.
I’m not sure. It felt like I was living out of sync, in every way imaginable. I’ve just fallen and already I’m on my feet, brushing the dirt from my sleeves, smiling to someone passing by, or to nature. It’s only when I think back on something that I gain access to all that ought to be mine. You, for example.
I have returned. Something that was lies spread out across the landscape. A carpet of needles at the foot of the trees. A cape of snow, a forest of fingers, and a sky. Antlers of the red deer, Trehøje Hill, the last ten fir trees on its slopes, hollowed to the bone by wind, forlorn. This is what we’re dealing with.
Oil on troubled waters.
An odd summer dress underneath a sweater and overalls.
It’s snowing again. I think: when will I be able to leave, the roads are blocked and I’m stuck here. I lean forward in the windowsill, towards the pane. The marble of the sill is cold; the winter is. One afternoon in summer I put my cheek to the sill. My lips feel too big, my hands. I push aside a potted plant, I remember that. Climbing up into the windowsill, leaning my back against the sun and the window. The marble is cold; even though the sun has been shining in for hours, the marble sills are cold. Sticky thighs in the heat. Body longing for cold.
Or body longing for warmth.
My hands become, how should I describe it, violet; in the winter, my feet too. A colour that can remind me of something like: blue. This afternoon the snowplough went by every hour; with a weariness that had to do with something other than snow or no snow, it ploughed through the village, which parted obligingly. Two lengths of white. Black asphalt shining through a thin layer of broken snow. I thought of broken snow, the saddest thing I can think of. And now I think again: when will I be able to leave.
I’m saving up.
Something beautiful from which to depart, something beautiful to sacrifice. It remains nonetheless, left like a shadow, a heaviness in the images. What could have been. Love annulled.
Are we snowed in, I ask.
My mother is doing accounts, some receipts. Number forty-nine, she says, tying an end and looking up at me.
We look out of the window, our eyes coming to a dead end, like railway tracks in a landscape reaching the point where the workers went home and the job is left for some other time, tomorrow or never. There’s a sense of: dead end. The railway tracks lying there pointing, turning the landscape into a basin or a picture you can: see.
She contemplates. I understand, that those kinds of thoughts exist. What exactly do I want, where am going, am I able; and she asks me if it’s a problem. If I can’t get away, if I have to stay here, is it – a problem.
I shrug. I suppose not, I say. But both of us know it is; that it really is a problem.
Cooped up in here.
The winter shuts you in or shuts you out, that’s how it feels, a sense of not being able to get anywhere. It’s inside us both. No way forward and no way back. She wants to know if I can find peace here. You can’t really find peace here. That’s how she asks. There’s a pause. Neither of us breathes. Again I shrug.
I can, I say.