In response to ‘The Woman in the Dunes’

Photo of sand dunes
N Whitford/Creative Commons
"Response to “The Woman in the Dunes”

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In response to “The Woman in the Dunes” (before finishing the novel)


Words flood visions

     Onto the black behind your forehead

           Curves suggested only by sand

                  soft, flowing: in and out of the landscape


the sand dunes by the sea

        (grass covered on the Baltic)

                   visions turn olfactory: salty wind, Tannen, Backfisch, Oma — Opa

become the sand dunes of the desert

         Sahara — sun drenched and golden

Up, up from the ground, rising majestic — mighty


                  small, buried, bruised and toiling

                            sweaty and captive



The woman in the dunes is too much part of the earth to be held captive by you and me 

       — too ethereal to be held captive by herself


    The Woman in the Dunes is both.


In response to “The Woman in the Dunes” (after finishing the novel)


The sand shifts under my feet

I can smell the still-hidden ocean

the sand gives and I slip down the Dune

the soles of my feet burn — from the friction and from the heat held by the sand


From the cusp, I finally see the foaming waves

I drop my bag and (almost) tumble down toward the water

Where the foot of the Dune hits the flat beach, the sand gives again

not down and back as before — 

down and down


My skin revels in the cool dampness of the deeper sand

my calves and thighs panic at it and my arms 

— though they do not touch it yet — 

flail at it

By the time it reaches my shoulder, the cold has made me freeze

I inhale


In the dark, I move my arm, then the other and my legs

I push myself toward warmth

As my head breaches the sand, I see the water

I breathe deeply as I swim parallel to the shore

Contact Mikkel at [email protected].