Twisted tongues

6 June 2013 | Fiction, poetry

pysty.hiljaisuusPoems from Pysty hiljaisuus (‘Vertical silence’, Teos, 2013). Introduction and commentary, Writing silence, by Mervi Kantokorpi

She said, it was I who said, alone, my feelings confused. Should I somehow have cleared my head, though all I wanted to do was write in the water? ‘Behind me I drag desire’s reflection, like the skirts of a boat sinking towards the depths,’ she once bespoke me. ‘Your skirts are heavy with algae and their smell would banish even the insects. A deer, swimming across a long lake, becomes entangled by the heel, only worsening things as it thrashes there, until it too falls straight down, never floating, to the bottom of the lake,’ I replied. She turned her back and leant against the wall. I couldn’t see her fingers as she, controlling the sound, ripped off a small, wriggling fin, closed it in her fist and turned towards me with an unnatural smile:

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She who said nothing lay spoken there. She would rather tear out her tongue with her own hands than give her basket full of yellow plums, folded sheets and all that blended scent. In the blended scent she spoke, her voice through my voice: deny one thing, deny another, deny them all if you will, but no one will listen to your playing. That’s what it’s like: through a twisted tongue the body must strive forth or yield to the wishes of a little lass. Other winds will no longer blow: even sweet tumult will lead us to a wuthering wood, forever echoing with the sound of the summer earth, only the wind in the forest trees, the forest trees swing ding, ding, ding.

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Would we could arrive 
of questions unburdened
somewhere 

where our toes drop off
       and our cheekbones, outlines.

Would there were a place
where warmth came quickly.

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To surround silence
to stand with a net in hand catching butterflies
the butterflies pass the net’s gullet
what is it that surrounds silence
why is surrounding important
isn’t someone standing there, silence growing
like a tall birch
up from within the listener, his ribs
give way
from his crown a treetop rises
upwards, nudging the sky:
or so the birches believe, those craning trees.
The wind gets inside them and shakes them,
the wind’s caress cannot be avoided,
the wind so strong you can’t hear your
I’ve forgotten what to write
of those bearers of green
knights of the green shroud
wrapped in green shroud
monarchs of the greening days
lush, soft and deep,
those that surround

Translated by David Hackston

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