Minna Needs Rehearsal Space

An excerpt

Dorthe Nors

Illustration by Shuxian Lee

Minna has gotten Lars to elaborate on his text.
Lars has written, But I'm not really in love with you.
Lars has always understood how to cut to the chase.
Minna can't wring any more out of him.
Lars is a wall.
Lars is a porcupine.
Minna lies in bed.
The bed is the only place she wants to lie.
Minna hates that he began the sentence with But.
Minna feels that there was a lot missing before But, but
Minna should have apparently known better.
Men are also lucky that they possess the sperm.
Men can go far with the sperm.
Men with full sacks play hard to get.
Men with full sacks turn tail, but
Minna can manage without them.
Minna is a composer.
Minna feels her larynx.
The larynx isn't willing.
Minna can hear her neighbor come home.
Minna places an ear against the wall.
The neighbor dumps his groceries on the table.
The neighbor takes a leak.
Minna puts Bach on the stereo.
Minna turns up Bach.
The neighbor is there instantly.
Bach's cello suites are playing.
Minna's fingers are deep in the wound.
Minna looks at the portrait of Lars.
The portrait is from the paper.
Lars is good at growing a beard.
Lars sits there with his beard.
Lars's mouth is a soft wet brushstroke.
Chest hair forces his T-shirt upward.
The beard wanders downward away from his chin.
An Adam's apple lies in the middle of the hair.
Minna has had it in her mouth.
Minna has tasted it.
Minna has submitted, but
Lars looks out at someone who isn't her.
Lars regards his reader.
It isn't her.
Minna is tormenting herself.
Minna feels that Lars is a hit-and-run driver.
The hit-and-run driver has suffered at most a dented fender.
Minna savors her injuries.
Her heart is spot bleeding.
Her mouth stands agape.
Minna comforts herself.
Minna has the music, after all.
No one can take the music from her.
The music is an existential lifeline.
Minna would just rather have a child.
Minna ought to be glad for what she's got.
Minna would just rather have a child.
Once upon a time, composers were sufficient unto themselves.
Composers didn't need to have children.
The tendency has changed:
Minna should take it upon herself to have a child.
Minna looks at the bookcase.
Minna grabs the first book under B.
Ingmar Bergman opens up for her.
Bergman's wearing the beret.
Bergman's gaze peers deep into Minna.
Bergman wants to get in under Minna's persona.
Minna's persona attempts to make way for him.
Minna wants Bergman all the way inside.
Bach plays.
The neighbor thumps.
Bergman drills.
Minna keeps all superfluous organs to the side.
Bergman says, I am drilling, but . . .
Either the drill breaks, or else I don't dare drill deeply enough.
Minna's managed the impossible:
Bergman can't find the woman in Minna.
The mother won't turn up.
The mother, the whore, the witch.
Minna lifts up her blouse a little.
Bergman shakes his head.
Minna stuffs him up under the blouse.
Bergman doesn't protest.
Bergman makes himself comfortable.
Bergman whispers sweet words to her.
Bergman's words don't work.
Minna's lower lip quivers.
Minna whispers, I used to sing.


Minna hasn't been out of her apartment in three days.
Minna has sent a lot of texts.
Minna has asked Lars to tell her what was supposed to be in front of But.
Lars doesn't reply.
Lars won't budge an inch.
Lars was otherwise so mellow.
Minna recalls when they last saw each other.
Minna and Lars lay in bed.
Minna stroked his beard.
Minna read and interpreted.
Lars just needs time.
Minna decides to send Lars an email.
Minna writes, I think we should meet and talk about it.
Minna writes, We can always of course be friends.
Minna writes, I miss you so.
It's wrong to write that, yet she's written it regardless.
It thunders through the ether.
The email's directional.
Minna's ashamed.
The rehearsal space is gone.
Tim's on Bornholm.
Minna's got no money.
Minna's got no boyfriend.
Minna's only got herself, and now she's going out.
Minna goes down the stairs.
Minna goes down to her bike.
The bike stands in the backyard.
The backyard amplifies all sound.
The neighbors' orgasms, the magpies, the pigeons dominate.
Minna puts on her bike helmet.
Minna bikes onto Amagerbrogade.
Minna walks through the revolving doors into the Royal Library.
Minna wants to concentrate.
The young female students are wearing high heels.
The heels bang against the floor.
Minna despises the students' high heels.
Minna despises their catwalk character.
Minna doesn't think they've studied what they ought to.
Minna fiddles with her sonata.
Minna removes long hairs from her blouse.
Minna waits for news from Lars.
Karin's sent her an email.
Karin sends lots of emails every day.
Karin's emails are long.
Karin tells about her life in the country.
Minna's with her in the bedroom.
Minna's with her at handball in the gym.
Minna isn't shielded from anything.
Karin uses Minna as a diary.
Karin's everyday life will take over Minna's.
Minna makes a rare quick decision.
Minna writes, Dear Karin.
It's not you.
It's me.
Minna breaks up with Karin.
All things must have an end.
A worm has two.
Minna doesn't write the last bit.
One shouldn't hurt others unnecessarily.
One should above all be kind.
Minna would rather not be anything but.
Minna's hardly anything but.
The email thunders through the ether toward Karin.
That's as it should be, thinks Minna.
The ether is full of malicious messages.
The ether hums with breakups and loss.
The ether is knives being thrown.
The ether is blood surging back.
Minna has wounded a creature.
Minna stares out on the canal.
Minna listens to the banging heels.
Minna needs to go to the bathroom.


Minna's peed.
Minna's back in her place.
Minna sits and feels the pain.
The pain's a contagion.
The borders recede.
Cynicism buds.
Pointlessness grimaces!
Minna's snuck Bergman out of her bag.
Minna's got to concentrate.
Someone waves from behind the panoramic glass.
Jette's standing with a bakery bag.
Coffee's to be drunk on the quay.
Jette's a classically trained harpist.
Jette's given up finding a rehearsal space.
The harp's stood in her way her entire life.
Minna knows the feeling.
Minna's had the same experience with grand pianos, but
grand pianos grow on trees.
Harps are exclusive.
Harps are for fairies, angels, and the frigid.
Jette's erotic.
Jette calls her boyfriends lovers.
Jette's boyfriends are married to other women.
Jette's studying composition in Reading Room North.
Minna writes paper sonatas in Reading Room East.
Minna and Jette drink coffee together.
The relationship isn't supposed to get serious.
Jette talks too much about bodies.
Jette has an IUD in her genital tract.
Jette has discharges and domestic obligations.
Jette needs a weekend escape with a lover.
Jette fears vaginal dryness.
The uterus is an abandoned studio apartment.
The vagina's the gateway to the enjoyment of all things.
Jette says, Don't you agree?
Minna says, Isn't that a balloon?
Minna points to a spot above the harbor.
Jette's content with the two kids she has.
Enough's enough, says Jette.
Jette has two kids, thinks Minna.
Minna has a hard time getting up from the quay.
Minna feels like a horse.
Minna says, I think it was Bugs Bunny.
Jette goes through the door into the Royal Library.
Minna stands there like a fly in the ointment, and then she has to pee.
Minna has to really pee, and it has to happen fast.


Minna has to go to the john twice a day on average when she works at the Royal Library.
Minna pees.
Minna fills her water bottle from the tap.
Minna leaves the john.
Minna's surrounded by a couple hundred police officers in mufti.
The officers are with the Danish National Police.
The officers stand at attention in the buffet area.
The officers are at a conference in the Karen Blixen Meeting Room.
Minna watches the deputy commissioner eat a fish roll.
Minna slopes through the crowd.
Minna is a relic.
Minna spools up across two hundred officers.
Minna towers over four hundred sperm-filled sacks.
The officers' laughter bursts through the room.
Jens Peter Jacobsen shudders.
Hans Christian Andersen ditto.
Yard upon yard of shelving turns its back.
Minna writes tonal rows.
Minna sweats.
Minna works like a horse.
Minna heaves the tones around on the paper.
Minna clears her throat.
Minna clears her throat a little more.
The girl to her left shushes her.
Minna packs up and rides downstairs.
Minna enters the revolving doors from one side.
A police officer enters from the other.
Minna revolves around with the officer.
Minna is walking and going round.
The revolving door mechanism feels defective.
The officer gets his foot caught.
The revolving door stops heavily.
The revolving door spits Minna out like a clay pigeon.
Iceland Wharf lies far below Minna.
Iceland Wharf shines flat and practical.
Minna sees far beneath her the mermaid on the quay.
Minna looks out across the city.
Minna floats.
Minna's in flight over Copenhagen.
Minna's an instance of female buoyancy and helium.

translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra

Copyright © Dorthe Nors & Rosinante&Co., Copenhagen 2013.
Translation copyright © 2014 by Misha Hoekstra.

Minna Needs Rehearsal Space
and Karate Chop are forthcoming from Pushkin Press in the UK in February 2015. Minna Needs Rehearsal Space and Days are forthcoming from Graywolf Press in the US in 2016.