Travelling light

30 September 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Where roads reach through nights
into a fresh infant nightfall
with forest growing rooted to roots and stars,
and darkness canters along
on her black mare,
      canters along at a silent pace,
she combs her hair
on the starry comb
and then slips into eyes to sleep.

But here nights are nights
of rooms, mere darkness:
light a light, it’s no night,
put out the light, it’s night,
that’s all,
and not here alone but everywhere
that rooms are ranged in rows
in piles.
Houses sleep, breathe earth’s vastness
so that each of you, alone,
but neighbouring together,
will fill with stars.

From Vaeltanut (‘Travelled’), 1956

In light in darkness

No one knows where you’ve gone.

Long rays are curtaining the evening –
the glitter of your path, the dust.

You’ve hidden yourself from me
in so much light.


A summertime sky of bleached linen
and a curlew blinded with light
cries and cries
its restless call

on an evening like this
I think of you
as if I were already away


Let's make our love's foundation
                 the compass rose swim
              in a binnacle of dreams
           let's flow with energy, warmth,
forget the thermostats and,
           our hair flying
              radiate electricity
and with our house an illuminated pleasure  cruiser
we'll turn spendthrifts
           in each others' arms
in each others' dreams.


So I can wake
in your eyes' silver shoal of fish, far off
             I'd like to sleep
open my eyes, I'd like to
             bond to my beginning
while the evening's repairing
its netful of moon:
             a twofold reflection
coming up from the shallows
             and on my ankles
lovely cold


I hear your absence in the creakings of  the house
right up to the door as if you might
         open it –
         ourselves pounding both sides of the door
with beating hearts.


In the night's light in the darkness
                       an island
is glowing
      with the love of a shoreless day
in its dream
      we're the thing itself
we're its passion and its cosmic unity
      at the limits of our light
its aloneness and doom
are fixed inside us
      as we leave
as we leave
drawing apart on the waterwaves and cloudwaves
it loosens itself from our boat
                     turns island
           in the circle of islands
settles down as a mark on the seachart
           with hooded eyes
and no longer looks at us.


Are we answers within each other
as a tree reproducing itself is
an answer to itself
          in the groping of its deaf-blind branches
to hear the light's
          deep boundlessly deep strings
             and ring out in them
with the force of a high counterpoint
a sound so slow
             that it is colour
so that
the green in me is spring in you
and the yellow in you is my autumn
and a presage of the winter in us
the absence of light.


From Kaunis hallayö (‘Beautiful frosty night’), 1984

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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