Carsten René Nielsen


Over by the harbor, on a bench with a view over the harbor basin, sits

a girl swimmer. She is wearing a bathing suit and bathing cap, her

hips are wide, her breasts are small. Long before the land and the forests,

before the valleys and the hills, before paths became roads and

settlements towns, she was sitting here, but back then all this was sea.

“Now, remember to politely say hello,” the kindergarten children on

their field trip are told, and they politely say hello, as they walk by

hand in hand. It’s actually quite rude, I think, that she never returns

their hellos, but that’s how it is, and why, I don’t know. I myself have

never understood the wistful: My memory’s so bad, I rarely remember

what I long for.



Translated by David Keplinger
“Wistfulness” first appeared in English in House Inspections (BOA Editions, 2011). Trans. David Keplinger.


Read and listen to “Wistfulness” in the orginal Danish by Carsten René Nielsen.