Until the sun rises

Issue 3/2000 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Rakkaus tuli kun lähdin maan ääriin (‘Love came when I left for the ends of the earth’, Tammi, 2000). Introduction by Helena Sinervo

metaxy, like summer

The moon strokes boulders
Left warm by the day, examines
The granite, passion gone tepid
Descends from its solitude
Into sea-carved channels

Like a cloud sweeping past
Is the gaze that stops at me,
A small detail –
Hesitates, covers the light
On jacket collar and wrist ornament

When granite, the color of skin
Spreads the length of an entire back
Under the body as if in an eternal sculpture
In which one can’t tell
The firm from the warm –
When the rock is empty, I look
At the small grooves, the smooth surface
In which the sea’s salt has left
White lines
Then, exactly here, in this place
Appeared the granite breasts of this photograph

At the red contour of the sea
I swim, it is you I love, setting sun
On its course, my season
And I won’t end my journey
Until the sun rises again

In my dreams you come, feeling out
The dark pathway of my night
And when you arrive, you’re surprised to find –
Like a god gone astray
For whom the temperate tracks of the labyrinth
Are a secret joy, the only route

Like a swallow returning
From a long migration
Finds on the last island
The sea’s eaves,
Thus do I love you, my wandering
Heart’s resting place
Gray, open sea

As I swim, the sun’s bridge
Opens like lips
Open from light into darkness
Then flee, in an endless radiant streak
Into the depths of the sea

You are green transparent
Water-white strong
Foam-capped lucid –
Thought trembles sudden
Like a hair on my skin,
Descends into a salty armpit
The first Cambric sea

When the happiness that lives inside me
           as if in a mussel
 Meets a happiness that moves in waves
           like the sea
I listen to its rush in my ears
And forget the talk of the land, the world

Life is luck to be alive
Says the sun today, then goes
And hides behind the moon
The insignificant moon
And it replies Yes, complete
Happiness is always shadowed

Hands wrap around ears –
No, ears wrap around hands
And they meld into one
The way a sculptor
Stops the motion of time

Oh to be a snail on your plate
My joy’s heart, one snail
Which you ate, and while eating it
Smiled

I ask the trees:
How will you spend the next,
Thousand years, or thirty,
Or next year, or tomorrow?
But tree-love does not recognize time
A tree’s predictions are oracular, leaf-green

You are as close as a beam of light
Through the southern pines
When the scent of your breath
Lights up the edifice of my thoughts,
You are as far away as a silent
Owl at night, when the voice
Flees from the soft beating of wings –
Close and far
You whom I seek at the edge of the world

When nothing remained between
When only no-thing was between us
We were as close as the universe
As distant as the border

Here, take my hand
I say and the willow warbler
Which sits on my head in the mirror
Flies onto your open palm
And is no longer a reflection

There are moments when only a thin filament
About to break holds
My life attached
To a dark world –
You are the spider,
I would like to give you something
Perhaps myself
Send it along the moon bridge
From the invisible to the visible

As I rise slowly, quietly
After the metamorphoses
From the cold black stone floor
And think how the summer night
Replete with hay, mint, and apple
Fills up with scents and breathing
Whose origin I can’t even guess at –
Even the floor on which I rest
Is transformed into a warm lime tree
Which I won’t ever leave

Where there is danger, there is rescue,
Without knowing it, you are somewhere
On the shore of an ocean into which you sweep
Under sail or driving a wagon
Cheerful and ignorant of charts
And there it sits at the end of a cliff
But you don’t want to hear it –
What would you do without
The madness of your desire
Surely you hear that?

Credo quia absurdum
I don’t believe in less
I listen to the stones’ dialogue
Which the green and warm water
Records on the sides of waves
A lover’s talk, whoever you may be

When I work I don’t much
Sit at my desk
Unknown gods hide
Roach-like, in familiar comers
I look for a word that adheres
To the soles of my feet
On cobblestones in the din of traffic
I walk, an explorer
In the burning bush of my home

On my palms I hold up life
Carry it from one place to another
And won’t let it fall
But squeeze it tight between my fingers
Like a book, one that slowly fills up
Or like a stone jar I’ll leave
On the shoreline some day

Translated by Anselm Hollo

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