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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#Funen, morning. By John von Daler

                  You hear it in your sleep at four or five in the morning. The summerhouse has been quiet for some hours. Whatever marital quarrels or erotic shenanigans that sounded through the walls in the night have been laid to rest hours ago.

                The noise comes from outside the house, through the blue and white cotton curtains that flap lazily in the half-open window. The gulls are at it again, on the pier. Crab-hunting. If you can find the energy in your deep sleep you can lift your head up and peer out the window and down the lawn towards the dark green bay. Through the opening between the two banks of hip roses you will see the dark, wet pier covered with the cawing, milling birds, all on the crab hunt. Diving and gliding the seagulls attack the softly waving water and come up with small crabs that they hack to pieces on the planks on the pier, eating and fighting and pecking. When it is all over they shit great white mounds on their breakfast table and then fly off to start the hunt for lunch.
                Then you fall back asleep, the cawing now muted and friendly, swirling in your subconcious like a kaleidoscope of sound.
                A few hours later you awaken and roll out of bed as quietly as possible, knowing though that the first opening of a door no matter how quiet is also the first signal to ten or fifteen other sleepers that morning has arrived. You fasten a towel around your waist and walk barefoot through the house and down the stone steps to the dew-covered lawn. You find a place close to the patch of beech and fir trees and throwing the towel over your shoulder, pee into the undergrowth as you throw back your head to study today's weather: fickle, as usual, it promises clear skies even as the horizon is puffing up with dark clouds.
                Then you go to the shed and find a sturdy broom. Holding it across your shoulders you stretch your back against the wooden pole, your arms hung lightly over each end. When you get to the pier you dip the broom in the gray-green water and start to sop the planks with the wet brush, shoving the seagull shit into the water and leaving each successive plank wet and clean. The small, empty crabshells plop into the water and sink quickly to the bottom as the last seagull flies away at the end of the pier, giving you one final, impudent caw.
                When you have cleaned the whole pier you hang your towel on the bannister by the ladder that descends into the cold brine. Then you gingerly step onto the wet, plankton-covered slabs and climb down into the wet water that reachs as high as your thighs. You suck in your stomach and take a plunge, head and all, into the cold water and then you push off from the bottom and into the air splashing everything but your towel.
                Your flesh tingling, you crawl quickly up the ladder and dry yourself, your back to the water, your eyes on the house. Who's up, how much coffee should I make, would it be nice with a soft-boiled egg, has anybody gone for fresh bread? You cover yourself again with the damp towel and walk down the pier, up the lawn and up the stairs to the house. You put on some shorts and a T-shirt and then you go to the kitchen and boil some eggs, knowing full well that they have to be just right, and start dripping the coffee through the filter.
                Soon the monosyllabic family starts to appear and they disappear one by one down the lawn to the pier in robes or towels. They bathe naked in the cold water and come up in their cotton wrappings to have breakfast in the sun at a wooden table on the lawn. Together with some of them you carry the breakfast on trays to the table.
                You sit down at a place in the sun and crack open a soft-boiled egg that turns out to be perfect, runny in the yolk, smoothly solid everywhere else. You sprinkle it with salt and take a bite. Then you pour out some coffee, add some thick cream and take a sip. Across the table your mother-in-law, fresh from her bath in a white, fluffy robe, runs a hand through her damp hair and looks over at you. She speaks quietly, as if you were in church together.
                "Thanks for cleaning the pier, Jonsy-Ponsy," she says. Then she smiles and pours a cup of coffee for herself.
                As the dark clouds close the opening into heaven above your head, you remember the sun clearly, just as it was on the pier this morning and you carry it in your mind like an umbrella against the wash of time, against the years pouring past, against the eroding of your memory, even as a lonely seagull circles, searching, and flies away.

My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces at the top of the blog. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!


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