Issue 3/1977 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from I de mörka rummen, i de ljusa (‘In the dark rooms, in the bright ones’, 1976). Introduction by Kai Laitinen


He covers his grey floor with glowing carpets.
He has bought them cheap. No one sees they are fakes
except The Great Specialist – but he never comes.

He covers the windows with curtains like waves of silk
and wraps himself up in his food with a blind look of hunger.
Those who follow him – the wife, the children – have to run.

He goes quickly through the dark as though it were hounding him.
He is right: it is hounding him, it catches up with him
when he wakes defenceless in the night. He is abandoned:

all the time there is a noise in the rooms, a burglary,
he is afraid and does not move but in the dark holds
his hand to his eyes, it is cold and strange.

Each day he goes to his life and comes from it.
He is like a wagon. A wagon has its uses.
It trundles heavily past sidestreets and down to the harbour.

He stops: it is light over the sea, a light
hidden by clouds. As though he had seen it once, before.
What he sees is nothing, stretching far away.

There are waves, but they are all standing still.


The cauliflower is a hard cloud.
It is a brain-substance,
each branch part of a stem.
It grows unseen,
hid in green leaves, swells then,
with sprinkle of soil,
with a slight scent of poison
as though eyes could go blind
or fill with tears
but do not.


As when with your hand you shield
the flame from going out, there, on the path,
while the rain starts heavily to fall
on the oakleaves –

and beyond the circle of light the great wind
slowly circles and like a bird of prey
looks down into the dark valley
and sees you –


Sooner or later your fate scents you out.
Like a wasp, swift and invisible,
only the brilliant sound
only a puff of wind.
You turn quickly round.


There are days
like the splintered, sharp
edge of a bursting bulb.
There are days
when the light is like the sound of pliers
freeing the splintered glass
and slowly out of the socket
twists the bits out
and only later you see
a cut,
mechanically wipe away the blood,
almost blind.


The moon shines
weakly, the wick turned down.
You bring it
in to me,
then blow it out.
You are cool,
quite cool
and taste of salt.


You go up a path to the table
with a blank sheet of paper.
Soon the night’s north wind blows it away
There is fruit on the table
flowers in plain glass jars and, in among the trees,
people who turn round and smile.
There is a camberwell beauty that flutters
up into the old oak,
closes its wings and is seen no more
against the spinning sky.
Reaching the table you see
the paper is filled with writing
you sit down there, lean your bead
against the chilly table-top.
There a glass of spring water stands, bees hum
in the tall grass,
and grasshoppers are signalling.
All the wooded slope glitters
after the storm,
it is like a dream or a night without sleep,
a sleep, a poem
behind closed eyes,
with the senses open,
like the clouds.


The light falls on the bird’s wings
and the bird stretches them, glides out
and creates the space.

Translated by Keith Bosley

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