We are sitting at an airport
in Copenhagen drinking a lot of coffee.
It was most elegant there, and comfortable,
and refined to the point of lassitude.
Then suddenly he appeared- that old man-
in a plain green parka with a hood,
his face deep tanned by salt and wind-
loomed up rather than appeared.
He walked, furrowing through a crowd of tourists,
as if he’d just been sailing a boat,
and like the sea foam his beard,
whitening it, fringed his face.
With grim victorious determination
he walked, generating a big wave,
that swept through the modernized antique,
through every sort of antiqued modernity.
And pulling open the coarse collar of his shirt,
he, rejecting a vermouth and a pernod,
ordered a glass of Russian vodka at the bar
and pushed back the tonic with his hand: ‘No! ‘
With rough-hewn hands, all scarred and dented,
in boots that made a mighty clatter,
in trousers indescribably stained and greasy,
he looked more spruce
than anything nearby.
The earth seemed to bend beneath him-
so heavily did he tread upon it.
And one of us said to me with a smile:
‘Just look! The very spit of Hemingway! ‘
Expressed in each brief gesture, he strode off
with a fisherman’s ponderous gait,
all out of granite crudely hewn,
strode as men stride through gunfire,
through the ages,
He strode as if stooping in a trench;
strode shoving chairs and men aside…
Hemingway so much!
Later I learned
it was, indeed, Hemingway!
Translated by George Reavey