by Marianne Koluda Hansen
(translated from the Danish by Michael Goldman)  

I was about twelve
when I got the feeling
that the thing we call truth
probably wasn’t so straightforward
that was when the proposal for
land reform
was going to be voted on in a referendum
and our mailbox was
with propaganda
for and against
and when I read it
I thought that it all sounded good
and that didn’t make any sense
but I realized
that the dirty reds
were not mysterious shady beings
but were among others
the parents
of the most popular girl in our building
and I discovered
that communists
probably were not grumbling men in
long black coats after all
who painted graffiti at night
and I more sensed than understood
that never again would I be able to
see a cause from all sides
at one time
and make a comparison
and I still cannot
discern things
but it’s hard to let go of
the feeling that I always can
look up the answer
at the bottom of page eighty-eight
and who’s the murderer at
the end of the crime novel
that you just have to
do enough research
make sure you talk things through
and see what happened
go to a primal therapist
and get hypnotized
so you can remember an event
from your parents’ early childhood
then all the pieces
will suddenly fall into place

and the myth of
the root of the problem
turns into a more and more
painful acquaintance
gradually as
the information explosion
hurls us farther and farther
out into space

but I have discovered
two things:

that the truth can never be found
only formed
by oneself
with those materials
that are on hand

and that that is no
not to try

“Sandheden” (“The truth”) appeared in Marianne Koluda Hansen’s
second book,
Halsbetændelse og Glasperler  (Throat infections
and glass beads
), in 1980.

by Marianne Koluda Hansen
(translated from the Danish by Michael Goldman)  

I can’t sleep at night
as soon as I’m in bed
all kinds of
unpleasant thoughts begin
to appear in my tired head
and I become wide awake
rigid and tense
and I lie in the dark
like a foreign object
cast out by the night:
what if something happens to my kids
or my husband leaves me
or we get fired
from our jobs
and have to leave our home
or a war starts
or I get cancer
like my aunt
who just had her
one breast removed
and all that violence
and crime
and pollution
you hear about
I can’t bear
to think about it
but I can’t stop either
the world is foreign
the dark threatening
so I go into the living room
and turn on the light
and have a gin and tonic
and start to write a list
of all the things I’m afraid of
and robbery
bomb threats
and spiders
and terrorists
I am also afraid of
becoming old
cheated on
laughed at
it doesn’t help
I’ll never be able
to write down everything on the list
I can barely even think of
all the things I’m afraid of
but maybe I should prioritize
only be afraid of a few select dangers
and not give a damn about the rest
but what’s worse
war or cancer
senility or divorce
it might be kind of
difficult to choose
but I could also
just take three things each week
and change every Sunday
until I had covered the whole list
but what if
the house burns down
during the week
when I’m afraid of infidelity
break-ins and terrorists
there I would be
with the totally wrong anxiety
that would be no help at all
no, it’s no use
I can’t fight it
with so many dangers lurking
I might as well just go back to bed
there’s nothing I can do
things are even worse
than I thought
and I’m feeling a lot better

“Angst” (“Anxiety”) appeared in Marianne Koluda Hansen’s first
Ingenmandsland  (No Man’s Land), in 1979.


Marianne Koluda Hansen was born on the island of Bornholm
and lived most of her life in Copenhagen, Denmark.  She received
her teaching degree in 1979 and taught English and Danish at a
school for adults for thirty years.  During her lifetime, she wrote
four books of poetry and one novel.  She was also a painter who
held several exhibitions.  Hansen died in 2014.  

Michael Goldman taught himself Danish in 1985 while working on
a pig farm in southern Denmark.  Since 2013, he has received eight
grants to support his translations of work by prominent Danish
authors.  More than sixty of Goldman’s translations have been
published in English-language literary journals, and a dual-language
poetry collection is forthcoming from Norvik Press in 2017.  He
currently lives in Florence, Massachusetts.  Goldman’s website is
located at

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 10, Number 2
(Fall 2015)

Copyright © 2015
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.