Original Inhabitant

Issue 4/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kuka puhuu (‘Who’s speaking’, Otava, 1994). Introduction by Tero Liukkonen

They lie in the flurrying snow, languid as a naked woman taking a shower,
the mountains, their luscious thighs ajar; under snow-white skin,
confident rib-tongues curve down to the gully
where a lone skier slides and struggles in unbroken snow

A dense stand of spruce grows from her thighs, moonlight
shimmers on her flank, her hair is green

A hundred miles long, face hidden under the covers, out of the smoke
droplets emerge

slow is her breath in the wind, waiting for spring, under the snow

No one can conquer that vision, move it, bury it,
stitch it shut

she has come without being invited, living rooms grow inside her,
mice rub their whiskers in her hiding places,
obedient, the sun sets behind her, opens the dark door


Due to the minute hand’s patience
the hour hand is an hour fast.

Soon it will be later than it is,
night sky shimmers, beach vacation blue.

You have forgotten what it is like to scream.

Because of those hours
that have not yet passed, you never remember
what it was really like

when you thought
this way, hoped.


I listen to a solo from many versts away.
Between cliff and sea.
 Thin birch seedlings and
 small boys with blue-grey eyes
From large boulders covered in snow
 the gaze shifts to a father
 pulling a sled.
 Sitting up straight,
 a child gravely slides across the clearing
        in his wake.

A witness

The zoo keeper hugs

the male lion from behind as if it were a sleeping bag.

The lion is a single father,
his cub gets angry

and joins his dad in some ripping and mauling;
they toss the keeper off the bridge,
down to the underpass entrance.

I almost rushed over to help.

No passing

The road is endless,
its face crushed,
it wishes all the best.

Clouds gallop across fields,
drop a cluster of shadow spheres.

The road flows
through the city where tree trunks
lean against young men,
where the dream is of an endless road
with a crushed face,
wishing all the best.

Clouds gallop, etc.


This city is a disease which tunnels thin passages into one’s head.
Empty angels live in ghost hotels,
the wallpaper pattern is little houses on the prairie.

The women know who they are, they dance with the mirror.
Their eyes move sideways.

I look because they don’t.
The bottles are full and the tubes hang
from point A to point X

I arrive in this city to be remote.

The roads are icy,
good for going and coming.

Must I know whom to bow to,
must I be located,


A clod of clay on the pine boards.
The Original Inhabitant must have been here.
        What if I, instead of cleaning
                  it off with water and pine soap
            I picked up this lump of clay 
                         carefully let it crumble
                                    what land what grief
                                                what origin
                                     from what layer, how close 
            from the dark sediment  of how many seas

The Original Inhabitant does not save anything
nor does he inhabit, ever

The changes

If your child sleeps under a tree, you
 must be ready to leap down from the balcony.
Soon there will be cobblers again,
       even in the United States.
 How birds change their color.
The far shore is covered by emptiness.
 Unknown species live there.
When you emigrate, you die
 and lose your sun.

Translated by Anselm Hollo


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