Archive for December, 1993
Extracts from the novel Urwind (Schildts, 1993). Introduction by David McDuff
I have written you a snow letter. The day was clear, with clouds like drifting mist, woolly and small. In January the wind’s paintbrush is allusive and creates distance. But the darkness rises from the forests around the city; a pregnant bank of cloud, blue violet, is suddenly there, and it gets dark in the middle of the day. Then it reaches my room, too, and the silence thickens. The first snow falls, gleams like dust and down in the light from the setting sun. Then the snowstorm is there, whirls through gateways and along streets, stops, rises, turns, rushes onwards again under the courtyard’s swaying lamps. How long did I sit there, on the staircase, after Mrs Rosendal slammed her door shut, watching the darkness rising, stair by stair? Each year is a snowflake that blows around between now and the past. A door crashes shut, a door crashes open, out flies a grey soldier’s uniform and is followed, mumbling and swaying, by a man in long johns while a woman screams: ‘Swine!’ And again the staircase booms with the sound of a door being slammed shut. People stride through one another and leave traces of blood. More…
Poems from Parkerna (‘The parks’, Söderströms 1992)
The snow whirls over
We light candle-lanterns so that
the dead shall be less
lonely, we think that they are
subject to the same laws
as we. The lights twinkle restlessly:
perhaps the dead yearn for
company, we know nothing of
their activity, the snow whirls More…
An extract from Säädyllinen murhenäytelmä (‘A respectable tragedy’, 1941). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen
Artur sat on the balcony and contemplated the windowpanes, hot and bright as dragonfly’s wings. He reached into his pocket and produced an ivory cigarette-holder, inserted a fresh salt-capsule and a cigarette, and began smoking, but the cigarette was not to his taste. His mouth felt hot and dry; he probed the roof of his mouth with his tongue.
An ant was making its way across the floor; Artur’s gaze rested on the garden’s universe of flowerbeds, swarming with insects and blooms; the atmosphere in the garden had the tint of hot dust, apart from the lawn, with its limeblossom-tinged half light. He started to make for the garden: the flowers would all be needing water, and he could go for a swim in the pond. But first he wanted to take a look at his mother: she might manage an hour’s sleep in this heat. He tapped a drift of blue-grey cigaretteash onto the floor. He tiptoed heavily to the old lady’s door, making the floorboards creak, and opened it a fraction. In the green aqueous light thrown by the blind he could make out the reposing outlines of a weak, almost immaterial body; her throat and chest moved gently under her star-crocheted lace, but otherwise the old lady was sleeping lightly as a bird. More…
A short story from Pakosarja (‘Exhaust manifold’, WSOY, 1993)
We went into the building where Voroshilov said the waitress had disappeared. Inside was a big room lined with wooden benches. A tin-clad stove radiated heat. Someone had shut the dampers too early, probably out of meanness; it had that kind of smoky smell.
A corridor led from the room, with a few doors off it. We peered inside, but there was no one to be seen. There was nobody in the entire building. We left.
We walked across the railway yard in what I thought was the direction of the train. We heard the sound of the engine long before we could see anything through the snowstorm. At regular intervals the engine’s pressure valve let off steam. Voroshilov went for a leak. He leaned against the engine’s big back wheel and watered the lever, which had been left in the down position. The liquid ran down the engine’s rounded flank. The snowflakes melted as they fell on to the black casing of the water-tank. More…