The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.

ONE OF US IS SLEEPING

The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.

The tree is a shadow of another, realer world. That’s what I think.

And the apples are still attached, too red, and certainly too late. Droplets suspended on black branches. They hang there today, they hang all night; not being able to see them in the dark doesn’t mean they don’t shine.

There is a small handful of images to which I keep returning. A hierarchy, belonging to the body and the mind, they are pictures of the emotions; they won’t let go. You go back to them, again and again. Wanting to get closer. Occasionally it happens, in spite of everything, in some way or another you manage to gain access. A moment: to reach them and show them, return them to the world. Then, perhaps, you’re able to recall. Everyone has these images; four, five or six of them. It’s all about coming closer; they are what you write toward, paint toward; they are what you want to say and to share with other eyes. Another’s gaze. You speak, and you point, though perhaps no one is there to see. Look, you say, perhaps. How then to hand the image on, to implant it within another, within you. That’s the issue. Whether you can even carry them alone.

Whether I can; I need the eyes of another, another voice to share it with; it’s too much a burden, and I write with the expectation.

At the top of my hierarchy is the image of the apple tree with its bright apples.

There is an image of the bedroom window with light streaming in, a morning in summer, the panes in need of cleaning; cobwebs, and some leaves from the purple beech. There is an image of a pair of espadrille sandals on a bathing jetty; the sea that stretches out behind, a sleeping body; it is autumn, and no one in sight. An image of a stable after the animals have been put out to pasture for the summer.

The catastrophes you encounter in life may seem unreal, but they are: real. The alienation that makes you think that some people are more real than others is a construct; people are no more or less alien, no more or less real.

More people, as such.

And always impending: that slap in the face, for not having known; not realizing that particular unreality was just a matter of . . .

Of what. Of eventually swallowing one’s knowledge of the world—swallowing one’s own ideas about knowing anything at all. We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowl- edge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of all things, against all expectations, our assumption should be disproved. If it turns out we know just a fragment of the world. Constant motion, collapsing buildings and meticulous work in stone. The unfamiliar as a wall we must forever scrabble to remove in order to find our humanity there and perhaps even love someone.

Pass on one or two images, share them with someone else, a you. That kind of motion into the world. An escapism in reverse, a tower I build to be more able to see what is there.

You, for instance. A desire to see you.

Excerpted from One of Us Is Sleeping © Josefine Klougart and Rosinante/Rosinante & Co, 2012. This translation © Martin Aitken, 2016. First published in Danish as Én af os sover by Rosinante & Co. First published in English by Open Letter Books, Rochester, NY in 2016.

Josefine Klougart has been hailed as one of Denmark’s greatest contemporary writers. She is the first Danish author ever to have two of her first three books nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and has been compared to Joan Didion, Anne Carson, and Virginia Woolf.

Martin Aitken holds a PhD in Linguistics. He gave up his university tenure in 2008 to listen to The Fall and translate literature. His works include books by Janne Teller, Peter Høeg and Jussi Adler-Olsen. He lives in rural Denmark.

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Josefine Klougart

The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.

ONE OF US IS SLEEPING

The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.

The tree is a shadow of another, realer world. That’s what I think.

And the apples are still attached, too red, and certainly too late. Droplets suspended on black branches. They hang there today, they hang all night; not being able to see them in the dark doesn’t mean they don’t shine.

There is a small handful of images to which I keep returning. A hierarchy, belonging to the body and the mind, they are pictures of the emotions; they won’t let go. You go back to them, again and again. Wanting to get closer. Occasionally it happens, in spite of everything, in some way or another you manage to gain access. A moment: to reach them and show them, return them to the world. Then, perhaps, you’re able to recall. Everyone has these images; four, five or six of them. It’s all about coming closer; they are what you write toward, paint toward; they are what you want to say and to share with other eyes. Another’s gaze. You speak, and you point, though perhaps no one is there to see. Look, you say, perhaps. How then to hand the image on, to implant it within another, within you. That’s the issue. Whether you can even carry them alone.

Whether I can; I need the eyes of another, another voice to share it with; it’s too much a burden, and I write with the expectation.

At the top of my hierarchy is the image of the apple tree with its bright apples.

There is an image of the bedroom window with light streaming in, a morning in summer, the panes in need of cleaning; cobwebs, and some leaves from the purple beech. There is an image of a pair of espadrille sandals on a bathing jetty; the sea that stretches out behind, a sleeping body; it is autumn, and no one in sight. An image of a stable after the animals have been put out to pasture for the summer.

The catastrophes you encounter in life may seem unreal, but they are: real. The alienation that makes you think that some people are more real than others is a construct; people are no more or less alien, no more or less real.

More people, as such.

And always impending: that slap in the face, for not having known; not realizing that particular unreality was just a matter of . . .

Of what. Of eventually swallowing one’s knowledge of the world—swallowing one’s own ideas about knowing anything at all. We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowl- edge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of all things, against all expectations, our assumption should be disproved. If it turns out we know just a fragment of the world. Constant motion, collapsing buildings and meticulous work in stone. The unfamiliar as a wall we must forever scrabble to remove in order to find our humanity there and perhaps even love someone.

Pass on one or two images, share them with someone else, a you. That kind of motion into the world. An escapism in reverse, a tower I build to be more able to see what is there.

You, for instance. A desire to see you.

Excerpted from One of Us Is Sleeping © Josefine Klougart and Rosinante/Rosinante & Co, 2012. This translation © Martin Aitken, 2016. First published in Danish as Én af os sover by Rosinante & Co. First published in English by Open Letter Books, Rochester, NY in 2016.

Josefine Klougart has been hailed as one of Denmark’s greatest contemporary writers. She is the first Danish author ever to have two of her first three books nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and has been compared to Joan Didion, Anne Carson, and Virginia Woolf.

Martin Aitken holds a PhD in Linguistics. He gave up his university tenure in 2008 to listen to The Fall and translate literature. His works include books by Janne Teller, Peter Høeg and Jussi Adler-Olsen. He lives in rural Denmark.