New Poem: Voyage from Denmark to Slovakia

This is a series of fragments I wrote on (and later about) a bus trip from Denmark to Liptovsky Mikulas in northern Slovakia back in – I believe – 2018.

I never really got to finish them, so I’ve decided to simply leave them as is, in chronological order.

The distortions created by the ferry windows made the coast look as if it consisted of a string of bays, each sloping up to a conical hilltop behind it. All in all a more interesting view than the flat lines and planes that would otherwise constitute the Danish coast.

Entering the harbour –
scattered island specks like dust clouds –
thin ribbons
above the water –
glittering sunlight
dancing over both –
my vision flickers,
surf and tide –
the sun ripples
across my eyelids –

Germany. The huge, clumsy foundation her country rested on, as it desperately attempted to stretch itself north in denial. Ironic that a people with such a poor tolerance for the cold would be so focused in that direction.

The border crossing between Germany and Poland wasn’t marked in any way – except for the lone guard leaning against his car by the side of the road. It was however hard to miss. The moment the bus crossed the invisible line, the road turned from smooth to Hell. The sides of the road were suddenly overgrown and the crash barriers rusty. Not to mention that the bus had started rustling so badly it might dislodge someone’s kidney stone.

It’s hard to write on a bus. Not because of the movement though. Because of the people. The people who lean over and stare at the page while pretending to look out the window. The questions. “Oh, you keep a diary?” And the confused stares when the words “poem” or “short story” are mentioned. 

Words jump around in my head
like fish I strive to catch –
Each person who speaks a word
frightens one off –
The rest might slip through my fingers
at any moment now –

If only I could be back on the ship. The murmurs of the ocean would do me good. Visiting a landlocked country is a strange feeling when one has always been surrounded by water. 

I live in eternal fear
that the words I forget
while you chatter
are the ones that matter –
Each poem could be better,
each thought more complete –
but I’m forced to listen to you
while staring at the sheet –

Published By: K-M Skalkenæs

Danish poet, writer and painter. Writings include her own original poetry in English and Danish, and translations of poetry from the Scandinavian languages and German into English.

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