Pass, Passport, Passaporto, etc.

by Pia Tafdrup

Am I as ugly as in the photo?

Can I be let through,

once I have handed the official

my passport with its old visas

and its rain of stamps?

Am I really a wanted terrorist?

The man at the desk gauges the open passport,

belonging to the European Union,


by the chief of police in Copenhagen.

The man looks up at me, checks his computer,

for perhaps I am on the run

– perhaps not?

Possibly just

plain suspicious?

I wait. The queue grows behind me,

while my data is scrutinized.

I am not a criminal, not

a trafficked woman

nor an illegal immigrant

have no forged identity papers

have not smuggled cigarettes or stuffed

other unlawful things into my luggage.

I have no previous convictions

there is nothing to go on, but perhaps

that is a mystery?

The body is not national,

it passes easily into dreams

mountain ranges, rivers and oceans,

routes traced by swallows.

I want

the clouds’ passport

valid for travel to all countries and back.


Translated from Danish by David McDuff