Third-Millenium Heart by Ursula Andkjær Olsen
Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen.
This is part of our special feature The Gender of Power.
I put all the little
orb-shaped worlds of glass back
in their cosmic framings, and everything becomes everything.
All must be one
First, I drown in the radiance of the world. Then, I want to be the opposite of
radiance: a dullness, hiding me and drawing everything to me, turning
all into one.
First, I open my limits to everything. Then, once I penetrate myself,
everyone, woman, man, babel and ivory,
will turn into me.
I want to gather it all, the world, myself, in one single
sex, like balm on my crown of unfertilized eggs.
When I have incubated the world in my heart valves and birthed it
from my womb and breasts like the animal kingdom and the Milky Way;
when it has consolidated into globes and stars and starts to shine, starts time,
then the struggle will enclose it, once again, like a womb, and
turn all into one. The womb of struggle.
I have tucked everything inside my rib cage, that’s what it’s there for, my war
chest. Soon I will press my breasts against reality, and everything will
come out in one squirt: all will point to one.
I want to drink all the world’s juices and let my offspring drink me up
via breasts. I want to drink it all, let one drink all, via these
my bottomless drinking horns.
All must be one again
I will let myself be born out of everything, like expensive drops
running out of squashed things; I will let everything be
born out of me, everything that is snatched out of my body.
I will string myself up, bent in neon, like the arc of life,
and I will let the arc of life double up in pain
I have been through everything’s stone grinder; now I send
everything out through my thresher. The sword
that the sheath is pregnant with: just wait until it is drawn.
I have let reality into my heart; now I will open reality’s
hearts and place myself on all its thrones. I will be everywhere
I have had everything inside me; now I must enter everything, aided by
mightier types of penetration, like water, penetrating a flower’s stem,
saturating the flower in its outermost fibers. All vessels are connected. All
must point to everything.
I will let all sexes come to me, and I want to be all
sexes; I am gruesome
and soft as velvet.
I will penetrate the sea like an arrow, and the sword I am
pregnant with will be pulled out of me like an army;
an army that must be like water, one and all.
One must be all
I fell from the tree’s branches, like yellow leaves; In my womb, I must now
plant a tree that will be the entire world.
But first: I create you from mother of pearl.
Ursula Andkjær Olsen (b. 1970) was born and raised in Copenhagen. She has a degree in music and philosophy from the University of Copenhagen and Technische Universität Berlin. Olsen made her literary debut in 2000 and has since published eight collections of poetry, in addition to several dramatic texts and libretti for operas such as Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s Sol går op, sol går ned, and composer Peter Bruun’s Miki Alone, which was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2008. Olsen has received numerous grants and prizes for her work, including the prestigious award Montanaprisen for Det 3. årtusindes hjerte (Third-Millennium Heart) in 2013, and the Danish Arts Foundation’s Award of Distinction in 2017.
Katrine Øgaard Jensen is a journalist, translator and writer. She is the editor of EuropeNow, and a 2017 poetry judge for the Best Translated Book Award as well as the National Translation Award. She previously served as editor in chief of the Columbia Journal and blog editor at Asymptote and Words Without Borders. Her work has appeared in the Washington Square Review, the Denver Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. Her translation of Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s poetry collection Third-Millennium Heart, is forthcoming from Action Books and Broken Dimanche Press this summer.
This excerpt from Third Millenium Heart is published by permission of Broken Dimanche Press. Copyright © 2017 Ursula Andkjær Olsen. Translation copyright © 2017 Katrine Øgaard Jensen.
Photo: Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Chuck Kuan
Photo: Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Press Photo
Published on July 6, 2017.