Where have I gone?

Issue 2/1988 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Näköisveistos ruumiskirstusta (‘An effigy of a coffin’, 1987). Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

The maple is being stripped for nesting materials
by big crow and his lady.
Their endeavours are more pleasing
than the imminent drinking party, in a finished house
in celebration of early spring. Dreary, to know
in advance that one is insulting one’s guests
– and not even in a constructive manner.

*

The sheep are bleating in an Old Testament way.
The women refuse to give birth
to future warriors, religious,
political and commercial crooks.
There was another early summer that should have lasted at least my lifetime.
And on through generations to come, why not.

*

Snotty wind, muddy road.
Leaning pole. Another one, leaning more.
I’m going. Of course
I’m coming somewhere, too.
On the bare field, crows
looking matter-of-fact:
gathered, as it were, for a loose
cabinet meeting.

I have no trouble envying them;
all else is very difficult.
For ages, no one has, you know…
You , at least, drove me crazy.
There could be a surprising break in the weather
if the superfluous would conjugate the verb to be
on their way to dark apartments
where they’re living like there’s no tomorrow.

*

All the way to the dusty birches is heard
the composition of a n unemployed person
playing the accordion.
It is melancholic, like a childhood
in a strange place where one had to hold back
tears even at night
or risk punishment.

After the sun has set, we go inside
to admire the imposing flank of the private library.
Soon there are gaps in it
and the rustling of pages
is another reminder of that strange place of child hood,
above which the migrating birds rose higher,
opened their beaks in vague fright.

*

Two thousand five hundred sixty-two nights and days
I’ve been a sadsack, confesses a man.
He is consoled by an expert colleague,
who has been planning an end for almost thirty thousand days and nights
and who rejoices convincingly
that he’ll find courage in the small hours.

*

Me too it has gotten to, fast and thick.
I try to make tracks at night,
to the far side of perceptions.
Perfection is what makes death so attractive.
It won’t remain unfinished or in progress
like life, in which, as even in a good play
the best spots are, without question,
the intermission, and the fastest route to the cloakroom.

*

The waves pilot the waterfowl
loaded with crude, ashore. The experts engage in restrained dispute
about what species it is, this time.

I know but won’t tell;
I have a more important problem.
Up to my throat in the sea:
will you come, or the fog?

*

On sinister borders, passport photographs
are scanned for likeness.
Seen through a telescope, people
appear more intimate.

*

In among the late hay
it is impossible not to notice
the swallow feather.
Was it dropped there at some point, just for me?
Or had its intention been to arrest the steps of another?
The solution of this problem
takes up a considerable part of human life,
the lot of which is, for some, like this.

*

A cloud
moves. A branch
breaks
off a tree.

An old person
gathers
strength
to tremble.

Even a child
does at least
commit
some mischief.

I
am not
seen, not heard
anywhere.

*

Under the maple, on the rotting bench
one has mostly sat alone, when the ground
has not been frozen.
One has looked for quiet:
to write or read a letter,
to open a hidden bottle,
to wonder, what if…
One has been hiding from someone,
secretly waiting for that person,
which amounts to the same thing. Singing
or playing these
one has never
indulged in, one’s mood
having been uniformly somber.

Now it is winter, and the most hopeful
among us predict it will be over
before the end of this millennium.
And on the bench lies a blanket of snow
like an effigy of a coffin,
non-functional, in the wrong place,
it makes a lifelike impression.

*

Too abundant in the course of the evening
cries for help from the heart of stifled detail, legato.

*

In one whole day
I wrote thirty-seven words.
Of these, five times ‘and ‘ sank most impressively
into my memory.

*

I was restless since morning.
There was a repulsive ambiance,
like an abused bed.
In the afternoon, I watched a pair of eagles
performing at horrendous altitude.
I really would have liked to talk
even about these things
with someone, anyone,
but there wasn’t anyone anywhere near,
even though the world has some five billion inhabitants.

*

The guide said: ‘There
is a most magnificent palace,
no one can overlook it!
And there, look over there at those two:
that is the site
of the ruins of marriage’
And everybody kept taking note of the marvels,
with eyes both flat and wide.

*

At the talkative dinner table, the most downcast
gets served before the others.
A tight schedule
feeds the one who departs.

*

I miss myself. Where have I gone?
Many, children and old ones in particular,
turn to the Heavenly Father.
I would trust only in me
and confess everything to me,
ask for understanding and a moment’s peace.
But I may one longer exist.
Or I have become unrecognisable.
In the silence of my age,
the portents become overwhelming
in the small hours in April.

*

To my Father-in-Law

More for others than for himself,
Grandpa fixed up and built homes.
At the height of summer, after midnight
he was called to an unknown dwelling
eternal and whole
like our grief and memories.

Translated by Anselm Hollo

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