Benny Andersen

The Rebellious Skeleton

By Benny Andersen

In a way I can understand how my skeleton must feel
When I’m lying out sunbathing it is never allowed
to get a little sun
it must feel humiliating
patronizing
the only things that get their chance
to stick out
are the few teeth that I have left
and my short nails
otherwise they are perceived only as bumps
knuckles and bunions under the skin
plus a couple of kneecaps
the rest is reduced to a life in the shadows
and while I lie there slowly dehydrating
I sense my skeleton’s phosphorescent indignation:
Just keep laying there
skeleton oppressor
old rib-fascist
vertebra-imperialist
keep laying there or even better
rot as soon as possible
so I can liberate myself from you
and realize the legitimate dream of every skeleton
to dance freely away over the meadow
with scythe in hand and a toothy grin
and empty eye sockets
oh to finally be able
to rattle with my entire proud rack of bones
free of your sagging rolls of fat
sentimental organs
sloppy brain
oh to finally be able
unhindered to frighten my way forth
if you want to get ahead in the world
scare them
oh to finally be able
to rejoice over the screams of small children
to rattle at the moon
clank at the sun
perhaps my jiggling victory march will
culminate at King’s New Square
at the Royal Theater
a role in a Flindt ballet
or how about a session modeling
for a young and successful morbid painter
considering how I otherwise
have had to pose for your sake
so just keep laying there
old bone-racist
now my time has come
release the skeletons
it is spring

Then I jump up with a start
race home
madly brush my teeth
what teeth I have left to brush

I feel for my lifelong prisoner
wish I could do something
but I’m too cowardly and sensitive to come right out
and arrange a compound fracture of my shin
so it could get a small glimpse of the world outside
but it will be a good long while before
I cut my nails.

By Benny Andersen ©1993 “Det oprørske skelet”
Translated by Michael Goldman
Published by Univ of Texas in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Vol.4 2014