The world bright and lucid

Issue 4/1993 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Parkerna (‘The parks’, Söderströms 1992)

The snow whirls over
Tenala churchyard

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

The dead are silent as cotton-wool.
A flock of thin children who

inaudibly take one step closer
They look at us attentively for a

moment: is it because they
have forgotten, or remember? The snow

whirls over Tenala churchyard

As when one flies in
above a city at night at

low altitude: the lights become
motorways, the traffic’s

headlamps, one gets
away somewhere

Soon one is driving along a
road, one of the twinkling

lights in the whirling snow

   Why is the night so dark? Because
the universe is expanding.

I was ill.
I have recovered my health.
That is why I go from
door to door with the fearlessness
my Father restored to me.
The rain that flows along
the windowpane delights me now as before.
As in my girlhood I yearn
for foreign lands.
The years went by without leaving
much to forget.
The little girl must have
endured, she ironed her
dress and walked to school.
We have to endure not
knowing anything, we have to endure
someone taking us in their arms and
killing us. I am well again.
That is why I stand in your
doorway now, wishing you
nothing, good or bad .

What good is it to be a
nice house by the railway when
it’s raining. When one gets confused with
anything at all, public buildings.
When on all sides nothing spreads.
Before, there was forest. ‘That is why it always
seems as though a peculiar veil of melancholy
lay spread over plants and animals: they are
all beautiful, they are all symbols of some
deep creative idea; but they do not know it, and
therefore they are sad.’ Rooms For Travellers
To Rent. But if I put up there, what will happen
to me then? Unfurnished and those ugly radiators.
We yearn to make the world bright
and lucid, as in Monteverdi.
But those empty floors. Dust, traces
of paws, feline creatures.

Everyone is allowed in here. You see again those
run-over creatures, and their little sister who
is you. Thin figures flock and look
at you childishly with
eyes like moonlight. Roses
of blood open on the bandages. You think you
recognise a bold and happy little piece
you used to play. You see the horses again. There are
chill avenues mirrored in cold waters, but
it doesn’t feel cold.

We make such a pitiful
sight that the ringmaster
weeps. What is more we are cold. Ach!
He wishes us to hell, he wishes
this muddy market place in Ekenäs to
hell, with closed eyes he leaves
this mudpool for the continent, a
different place: where the ballerina’s lace is not
dirty, where the trapeze artist does not
stink of spirits, where the lion does not stare
despondently. Where cracks do not open
in the powder. Where cracks do not open anywhere!
The ringmaster knows no
such city, but it is painful to
grow old and remember without pain. Somewhere
the horses’ coats shine, spangles
glitter, the public roars far away
from these clodhoppers. There it is never
October with snow-mingled rain, there art
is memory and shimmering coins.

We provide the horses with what
 we lack: loyalty and
 courage. We love them for their
 loyalty and courage. It is November,
 the wind is blowing gently in our faces, small cold
 showers of water fall from the trees'
 crowns              The horses are frightened by their
 imagination. The horses are frightened by
 anything at all and set off.
 Nature does not squander; nature follows
 strictly economic laws. The trees
 go on standing in the mist, motionless
 Something has slowly altered, I
 know: what I remember does
 not come back.

We find it hard to
give form at great
speeds and
in darkness, those consuming
moments of halogen
against halogen, I cannot
discern you. That the sun
travelled alongside in the water,
An afternoon in August
in a South German garden with yellow
apricots after rain? One
treats oneself as a
suspect. One gathers
evidence: a stone that is thrown
must fall. You say that
it was so long ago, but
I remain, a battlefield.
A sorry monument. One
extends towards one’s beloved an
image, an assumption about
oneself to be transformed into
the beloved’s image of the image.
Take me with you. I am tottering
under the swan’s weight

Translated by David McDuff


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