Practically public

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Koko tarina (‘The whole story’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Pan shot

A whitewashed wall, small windows

advent calendar peepholes at the end of darkness,
                               lit-up squares

One two three kitchens awake at 7
each tenant bends over a kettle of porridge
in the gurgling coffeemaker’s soundscape,
opens the refrigerator
see the hunter in action: let’s spear this yoghurt

and the building across the way testifies to all of this
practically public activity
the evening’s closure of curtains, turnings-off of the light,
nocturnal breastfeedings. Talking windows. A light comes on at: 2:54 AM
– what’s up now?
Is someone thinking about a bird she encountered at the cemetery?

In the daytime, the tenants walk the city in the teeming crowd
and each one bears in mind a certain enclosed home base, 60 square meters,
it preoccupies brain and heart –
should I buy a rug for that comer in the entrance hall
when will we have time to change the wallpaper
are they doing all right back there
are the outside lights on what should I cook today
forgot to toss those sprouted potatoes

In the evening back home, lights on, TV on,
feed the frogs, read the junk mail,
one straightens the bedspread, another does nothing,
slumps at the kitchen table, sinks,
                                   but after a while
she too gets up and goes, for instance, to assume the horizontal in bed

The present, a tense

And even if they would sit by the moonbridge
sipping an effervescent beverage
one bubble at a time
and cars would swish across their own bridge
damp and glistening
and this moment would be
the one long and hesitantly yet purposefully
awaited one; this fortuitous event –

one of them would be suffering more than ever before
at exactly that moment,
as she would see this picture framed
and herself reminiscing about that memory,
the moon bridge, the purulent cars, the beverage
the pain experienced already then, and now.

And even if the other one would soon
feel cold, and the night
would dribble down over them
and they would feel altogether chilled,
they would have to find their way out of this moment,
it would soon be morning,
its tumult and hordes on their way to work,
the streets black with them:
the first shifts,
the second, the third

and nothing would hold

Fathers and sons

There are fathers
who when the German shepherd gets whiny
take him out to the woods and shoot him.
There are fathers who toss kittens
one at a time against a concrete wall.
The sons stand by, alert as silver spoons,
watch closely, shout: BULL’S EYE!
and beat up the parquet floor
with their plastic hammers.

They measure things, the sons,
with their gauges and rulers.
Measure the tones of voice,
the number of words indicating attention,
the degree of tenderness shown
when Dad picks them up,
the ceiling of his patience
when they scramble upstairs.

Full of such meters they are,
the little sons.
‘No put on clothes, want jammies,
now read good book
here in our new home.
Dad isn’t home yet, he’s still at work.’

Tomorrow, at the streetcar stop,
they’ll tell the fathers to jump like rabbits.
And the whole world’s fathers obey
and jump, jump hilariously.
with jutting incisors.

The child’s sleep guarantees
that all is well on this vessel.
No need to get in touch with anyone.
we have sufficient oxygen and wine
scented with blackcurrant leaves.

What would we hold on to?
What object would float past us?

Precisely then
                  everything would be perfect
skins soft and downy, touchings
longing and dead serious,
happiness steep and severe,
                 in this army.

Translated by Anselm Hollo


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