Author: Panu Tuomi

Aqua Regia

Issue 2/2000 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kuningasvesi (‘Aqua Regia’, WSOY, 1999). Introduction by Peter Mickwitz

Aqua Regia

Aqua regia, aqua regia, 
thus dissolve into you 
tallow candles and wing-wax, 
and in the distilled sun's bowl 
gold's will is broken. 
Equal in you are ergot 
and lightning-rod platinum,
 no difference between feather and lead, 
if you perish to become what you love 
you are the dawn's own.

Medieval landscape

He is a man who takes the measure 
of words as if each one of them 
were an angel. Rarely do they 
agree peaceably to dance 
with gravity.
You can see him sowing 
his hymns under the wrong balconies, 
and that is when even one 
stammering syllable feels 
like lightning striking your hip.
Sufficient ransom, if you remember 
the name oft he one you long for. 
His own the man curses 
like a fleur de lys, burnt 
seal on a shoulder.


You citizen of the world and the barrel 
troublemaker in the town square

Whose heart is a mustard seed 
and whose memory-is quicklime

Who fraternizes with stray dogs 
and hates coins more than fleas

Tell us what they taste like 
raw cuttlefish and lupine

What it feels like to search lantern in hand
 for the sun buried in shame 

Tell us how great is the freedom
 envied even by Alexander

How small an empire compared 
to a slave's brash request:

'Sell me to that man.
 He needs a master.'

Translated by Anselm Hollo