i utide

by Lone Vitus Read author interview March 13, 2017

Editor’s Note: “i utide”–in Danish–is part of the Global Flash series at SmokeLong Quarterly. The English translation follows below.

Ingen ved, hvor gammel jeg er, men jeg prøver at følge med. Min krop kan, min sjæl kan ikke. Tankerne spænder ben for hinanden, søger omveje og overlap, går i ring og fletter ind i flere niveauer. Bliver som en lagkage af motorvejskryds i stedet for de lige strækninger mellem afkørslerne. Det nedsætter hastigheden, og jo længere tid der går, des mere bliver jeg bagud. Nogle gange tager det timer, at tænke over nogle få minutter, det må ikke ske for ofte.

Jeg har lyst til at vandre. Ikke mod et bestemt sted. Netop mod et ubestemt. Ellers er det bare en rejse og ikke en vandring.

Min vej må følge vandet, pladsen bliver trang fjernt fra kysten. I mit blod, i min hud og i hver eneste celle findes vandet. Alting begyndte der, og ingenting er foruden. Jeg er nok et menneske.

Jeg ligner menneskene, og sådan er det. Tusindvis af salte krystaller har taget plads i mine celler gennem bevægelsen fra det strømmende vand til det faste land. De styrer min retning som små kompasnåle og drejer mine fødder, så jeg aldrig kommer langt væk fra ophavet. Som væsen hører jeg til begge steder og ingen steder. Er ikke fuldkommen, ikke engang hel. Det handler om at forme vejen omkring indholdet. Ikke forme indholdet, så det følger vejen. Jeg følger vandet, det er det, jeg kan.

Mit hjem ligger bag mig. På én gang en lettelse og allerede et savn. Måske vil lettelsen blive til bekymring, og måske vil savnet blive et minde. Jeg ved det ikke før om lang tid. Tiden giver ikke noget væk for ingenting. Der skal ydes og spædes til. En fornemmelse er den, og efter mange år har jeg fået den. Fornemmelsen. En følelse af døgnets rytme, som er vanskelig at forklare.

Jeg har en gang haft et ur. Mine forældre gav mig et i fødselsdagsgave, da jeg begyndte at gå i skole. Et tykt lille ur med tydelige tal og rød rem. Den kunne spændes for stramt eller for løst. Som med alt andet, men det var godt ment, er jeg sikker på. De kunne ikke vide, hvor jeg kom fra. Vidste ikke at uret om armen var en fastlåsning til tiden. Et jerngreb der fjernede fornemmelsen for klodens hældning og dagslysets længde og intensitet. En konstant påmindelse om fremtiden og om at udnytte hvert minut. Ikke spilde tiden.

Et ur virker kun fremad. Alt passeret er ude af fokus. Jeg kunne ikke følge med. Havde brug for at lade indtryk synke ind, blive endevendt og lagret de rigtige steder. Nuet forsvinder for hurtigt, når man går med ur. Tid skal kun mærkes.

Jeg går i vandkanten, den er blødere for mine bare fødder end stranden længere oppe. Aftenlys er så vemodigt. Minder én om at dagen er slut, og at den ikke kommer igen. Morgenlys derimod indeholder al begyndelse og forventning med sit løfte om uudnyttede muligheder. Måske havde det været bedre at begynde en vandring om morgenen. Med dagslysets farve som støtte og et vivar af fuglestemmer til opmuntring. Her i aftenskumringen skriger en enkelt måge af og til. Der er ikke noget ildevarslende i det, men en følelse af forladthed. Afslutning egentlig. Jeg hanker op i mig selv, minder om at det er et frit valg, drevet af egen lyst og indre nødvendighed. Den slags der glimtvist kan udløse selvmedlidenhed. Du kunne jo bare lade være, siger jeg lavt, du kunne jo bare lade være, og jeg ved, at det ikke er muligt.

 

Untimely

Translated by Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov

No one knows how old I am, but I try to keep up. My body can, my soul cannot. Thoughts impede each other, seeking detours and overlapping, going around in circles and merging. Like a layer cake of motorway junctions instead of straight stretches between exits. This reduces speed, and the more time that passes, the more I fall behind. Sometimes it takes hours to think about a few minutes – that cannot happen too often.

I want to wander. Not to a particular place. Somewhere unspecified. Otherwise it is a journey and not a wandering.

My path has to follow the water, space becomes tight out from the coast. In my blood, in my skin and every cell is water. Everything started there, and without it, there is nothing.

I guess I’m a human being. I look human, so I must be. Thousands of salt crystals have settled in my cells from the movement of the flowing water to the dry land. They control my direction like little compass needles, pointing my feet so I am never too far away from the source. As a creature, I belong to places and to nowhere. Am not complete, not even whole. It’s about shaping the road around the content. Not shaping the content to follow the road. I follow the water, that’s all I can do.

My home is behind me. At once a relief and already a yearning. Perhaps relief will become worry, and perhaps yearning will become a memory. I don’t know when. Time doesn’t give anything for nothing. It has to provide and contribute. It’s a feeling I have and after many years. A sense. A sense of the day’s rhythm, which is difficult to explain.

I once had a watch. A birthday present from my parents when I started school. A thick little watch with clear numbers and a red strap. The strap was either too tight or too loose. Just like anything else, but I’m sure it was well meant. They couldn’t know where I came from. Didn’t know that a watch on the arm was a lock on time. An iron grip that removed any sense of the planet’s tilt and daylight’s length and intensity. A constant reminder of the future and of taking advantage of every minute. Not to waste time.

A watch only goes forward. Everything passed is no longer in focus. I couldn’t keep up. Needed to let things sink in, think them through and store them in the right places. The present disappears too quickly when you have a watch. Time should only be felt.

I walk along the water’s edge, it is softer on my bare feet than the beach further up. Evening light is so melancholy. Reminds you that the day is over; that it won’t come again. But morning light contains beginnings and expectations with its promise of untapped opportunities. It might have been better to wander in the morning with the support of daylight’s colours and a birds’ chorus of encouragement. Here, in the evening twilight, a single seagull cries now and then. There is nothing sinister about it; rather a feeling of abandonment. Completion. I correct myself, remind myself that it’s a free choice, driven by desire and inner necessity. The kind whose glimpse may trigger self-pity. You could leave it, I say quietly, you could just leave it, and I know that’s not a possibility.

About the Author:

Lone Vitus is the author of Hønsefødder & Gulerødder cookbook (Chicken Feet & Carrots, 2011),  Under landet, novel, 2013 (The Harrowing, currently in translation,) Mad vs. Fødevarer, (Nutrition vs Food), a debate-generating non-fiction book 2014 and the novel Balders bog (Balder’s Book, 2016). In 2015 Lone Vitus was awarded Den Gyldne Grundtvig culture award (The Golden Grundtvig).

About the Artist:

Vince Hemingson a photographer, filmmaker, endurance athlete, and world traveler based in Vancouver.