This is a map

Issue 2/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

from Tasanko 967 (‘Plain 967’, Kirjayhtymä, 1991). Introduction by Jukka Petäjä

	and he woke
			 to the babble of a hungry baby
 		and his palate, his mouth
				was dry 
	and waking he recalled images of
		bodies battered
			in the violent overthrow
				of Vilnius TV Station 
			and he dozed off
				into the sound of suckling

White night, bodies' effects
 				on bodies, the reason
 			sees everywhere a doer
				and something to be done
		The midwife holds out scissors and suggests
				half a centimetre closer
	and the father cuts the navel cord
and the light of the baby's countenance shone upon his father 
	in the white rocking-chair, in an area
		of innocent future
and who on earth did the Planet Earth think it was at birth?
					in January-February
		the pot-plants rest
			the flame nettle and
				the draceana palm and
					the aralia and
						the Amazon lily

 the nemesia and
	the rubber plant and
		the goldfish plant and
			the African violet and 
				the fig
					and the President uses German
		in his conversations with the sun
			and when he allows a lull in his thinking 
							the wind gets up

I've taken 26 nappies
	out of the washing-machine and thrown them 
		open
			The expression
				is a compression and a wrapping
					and the signs symptoms of power

Not much left from that train journey, just bits 
	of talk Sharp type
		yet easy-going
	attended every school there was round there 
		and Christ that audit
			came expensive

	luckily there were the traffic lights there
		we didn't stop to pay our respects 
			to the little red man
		spring it was
			we pissed off to play pontoon 
	at Roentgen's place

		bureaucracy is wax
			in the psalmist's ear

now I've hung 26 nappies to dry
		on the line in the bathroom
			The idea of the Eternal Return 
		came to Nietzsche
				as a sudden revelation

	When the baby was on the way
		we discussed the history of desire
			the development of self-discipline
		Autumn leaves rustled at our feet
			we hung about at Mothercare 
				and you chose a sturdy
			maternity bra for your breasts

	and in the taxi, which still had a speaking tube 
		we continued our conversation
			about the anonymity of desire
							of self-discipline

and he is initiated into
			the secrets of management by objectives
		his pen exudes a stylish gobbledegook
				in the mastercopy margins 
				The machines need us 
				especially cars
				as clover
				needs the bumblebee 
				to renew itself
				We are the machines'
				lousy epiphyte

		and Lieutenant-Colonel von G
		confidentially lets me know
		that already on another planet 
		in another life
		he's an insurance agent called Marx

T ampere is the biggest inland town in Scandinavia
	Changing his baby's nappy 
		father whispers –

	My daughter, Mesopotamia, 
		land of two rivers –
Why are there sounds in the clouds? The flesh isn't the same 
			as fire and earth
		We have to return, not to being
			and not to the same thing, but 
		into the future and parting

This is a map, you live in a grey art-nouveau house
		on the edge of a large square, people at the bus stop
			study the sky and think
		well-off people are living round here, the words 
			are in the same space, you
				get louder the sky 
					greyer


	Morning dims and flakes down a little snow, a stalwart 
				cross looms on
the yellow wooden church's black cupola, the utmost bound
		of certainty in the fullness of matter
							Brecht 
	read the papers with the tea-water boiling, I've hardly time
		to glance at the headlines, the news 
	is stories where happenings
		produce themselves, the hero 
	gives the mugger a good hiding

	rationality's a form of madness, and war
		the passion of the virtuous, a definition
			that's undeniable, you know, since there's no sense

Travelling somewhere in Spain

I’m having a row with my hand.
I’m merely making an official enquiry
about the agreement uniting us –
by what right it continually writes
nonsense in my name.

***

I opened a sardine tin:
there, in the olive oil,
lay three Aronpuros interlocked
at a ratio of 1:21.

– Preserved whole, remarks
his wife, six months gone with child.

I broke the bread
after they’d sat down on the edge of the divan
to tuck into supper

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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