Author: Susanne Ringell
Prose poems from Tärnornas station – en drömbok (‘The Lucia Maids’ Station – a dream book’‚ Ellips, 2014). Introduction by Michel Ekman
I nurse a very small, perfectly formed child. It’s a girl. She smiles openly at me, even though she is so small. There is no doubt, neither about that nor anything else. The girl is the size of a nib pen, and just as exclusive. The nursing is going very well, it doesn’t hurt, and she can suckle without any problems. We are both at ease and yet awake, not introspective. The girl has intelligent eyes.
The milk keeps flowing.
Nothing runs dry.
Everything is obvious and neither of us is surprised. Just the fact that she is so small. Like a fountain pen. She is swathed in strips of bird cherry white bandages – like the ones mum had in her summer medicine cabinet – a cocoon, a chrysalis, but she’s not cramped, just secure. It smells good around us. I nurse my daughter who is perfect and the right size.
In this series, Finnish authors ponder the complexities of their profession. Susanne Ringell describes her work as sailing on sometimes stormy seas – without a skipper certificate, but with conviction
We are such stuff as dreams are made on; / and our little life is rounded with a sleep. (William Shakespeare, The Tempest.) In Swedish – my mother tongue and the language in which my pencil writes – the play is called Stormen, ‘The storm’. There are a lot of storms on the sea of dreams. The sky suddenly grows dark, and deceptive whirlwinds blow up, there are cold shivers and tornadoes, there is the Bermuda Triangle and the mighty chasm of the Mariana Trench. In its southern part is the world ‘s deepest marine environment, Challenger Deep, 11 kilometres. Our boats are small and fragile, and it ‘s a miracle they haven’t capsized more often.
It’s a miracle that in spite of it all we still so frequently reach our home harbour, that we arrive where we were bound for. Or somewhere else, but we do get there. We come ashore, we come ashore with what we set our minds on. More…
A short story from Vattnen (‘Waters’, Söderströms, 2010)
It was a lagoon. The water was not like out at sea, not a turquoise dream with white vacation trimming on the crests of the waves. This water was completely still and strange, brown yet clear, sepia and umber, perhaps cinnamon, possibly cigar with the finest flakes of finest wrapper. Clean. This water of meetings was clear and clean in a non-platonic, remarkably earthbound way.
Sediment and humus, humus floating about in the morning sun.
It felt comforting, as if the water didn’t repel the foreign bodies as a matter of course, didn’t immediately suppress the other particles and sanctimoniously hasten to force anything that wasn’t water, anything that could be interpreted as pollution and encroachment, down to the bottom and let it dissolve and die all by itself. This water sang its earth-brown song of unity without thereby becoming any less water than water-water was.
Helena felt cold. More…
Short prose from En god Havanna. Besläktad (‘A good Havana. Kith and kin’, Söderströms, 2006). Introduction by Bror Rönnholm
My alter ego has relatives who have bad teeth and the names of Greek gods. They live in ramshackle houses in suburbs which the taxi drivers can’t find, dangerous ex-no man’s lands in a rapid metastasis into concrete. They are wild and threatened with extinction, they are Finland-Swedish working class. Disorganised, of course they’re disorganised, my alter ego’s relatives never organise themselves. They don’t form part of any community other than their own. They go to sea and they breed, they buy shuteye dolls in whore ports and return home in grand style, always at night, always one surprising night when no one is expecting them. The women raise a cry of joy, the children go leaping barefoot, and the dog, which is called Zeus-Håkan, is quite beside himself. There’s a party. There’s no school that day. At twilight the women travel to their jobs in key factories and warehouses. When they come home the party continues and in the outside toilet there are new pictures of new places. My alter ego’s relatives have dyed hair and prominent busts in tight-fitting silver nylon jumpers. They pay for my alter ego’s father’s education so he can become middle class. They are proud of him. When we go to visit them they dress up. They clap their hands and the nail varnish peels as they loudly, just a shade too loudly, shout OH, oh splendid, such fine guests! My alter ego’s father is grateful and confused. He has long ago paid it back, paid the money back, and now what’s left is only what cannot be repaid.
With the passage of the years my alter ego’s working-class relatives are disappearing from my alter ego’s life. I miss them. More…
Short stories from Av blygsel blev Adele fet (‘It was embarrasment that made Adele fat’, Söderström & Co., 2000)
It was embarrassment that made Adele fat. It wasn’t from hunger that her fridge-fumbling fingers began to grow nimble, but from confusion. And it was never knowing what her tongue ought to say that led her to the concrete business of the fridge. Her tongue certainly knew all about tasting. It could feel her teeth chewing even if it didn’t know how to speak. It became a better and better judge of brussels sprouts and speckled sausage. The rest was just good morning and thanks, thanks and goodbye and nice day. More…
A short story from Åtta kroppar (‘Eight bodies’, Söderströms, 1998). Introduction by Ann-Christine Snickars
It was a bailer, a blue one. There they were, he, she, the bailer and a stormtossed net on the stern board of a hired boat. The boat had come with the cottage and the cottage with ‘Autumn archipelago package. Now nature is aglow.’
And it was aglow.
Masses of foliage and apples, damson and shiny russula spread out around them in all their glory. It happened everywhere, that glowing. Wherever one turned one’s gaze there was something ready to be picked or ready to fall, ready in general. Those first days they had, at least to each other, she to him, feigned enthusiasm about all this ripe richness, but that time was over.
Their time of fire and flames was over. More…