Selling to the lowest bidder

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Dessa underbara stränder, förbi glidande (‘These wonderful shores, gliding by’, Söderströms, 2001). Introduction by Claes Andersson

We don’t have our whole life ahead of us.
Talk about your experience.
About the sensual, about giddiness and falling, about the time
            you were out of your mind.
I bow down, I proceed by trial and error.
Wait. Time is short.
I begin with light, light that’s autumnal sky-high
When I painted I saw nothing but the light.
Within the light: the invisible creating that hallowed
            feeling under a tree.
Each tree holds the light in its arms like a
            child or a lover.
Birds ruffled with light, breeding inside
            the tree’s head.
The touch of light’s wind on the tree is like
            a caress on the skin.
Birds that are everywhere, no one ever catches sight of them
            but sees them all the time.

Who am I? I do not know.
I am my image of myself and the image of me
      in my mirror.
I am your image of me.
I am my image of the image of me in you.
I am your image of me in your mirror.
The photo of me as a child represents a boy
      who resembles me as a child.
The child fell ill with adulthood and was completely forgotten.
Dissolved, used up.
I don’t know where he is, if he existed, but
      he does not exist.

When I heard the wonderful Janne Thomsen play Bach on her
transverse flute of silver I entered into the music to such a degree
that for a moment I experienced myself as the flute that her lips so
wonderfully supply, softly and pliably blew her body-warm air
into. Blow blow blow your hot air into my air hole I cried out to
myself until my wife awakened me, hissing that I was not to fall
asleep in the middle of the concert, and in the first row besides, and
as a representative of the Finnish cabinet and of our entire Nordic
social structure. I have decided to come back in my next life as a
silver flute. Janne, here! come!

I wake up out of a political dream, I have just
   murdered the president.
I have been sentenced and stare into the muzzles of
   the rifles of the firing squad
I, such a peaceful human being?
Luckily I awaken before the bullets pierce
   my breast and blood dims my gaze.
I have to think this over before things come to a head, I
   pull down the shade.
It looks dark outside, that cannot be denied.
I hear how my neighbor’s naked wife with her marvelous
   nipples is opening the window.
Like an ecstatic swarm of sperm the light casts itself over
   her, one can always imagine.
I remain in my darkness until it
   begins to grow light.
Where does the darkness go when the light comes, and where
   my longing?

A happy person does not know
   what happiness is.
That’s why he’s happy.
Happiness is for the unhappy man.
He strives for it and thus
   never attains it.
When you get old, happiness shrinks but
   its specific gravity increases.
I have lived a full life but still
   I haven’t had enough.
That’s what it says deep in my heart.
If there’s something worse than growing old
   it would be not growing old.
Humility is the most lamentable of lies and
   the most indispensable.

Everything lawn is for sale.
The room, the books, my hands, the piano, the silverware,
   all the accessories.
I don’t sell them to become rich, rather to
   become poor.
I sell to the lowest bidder.
In your place in our lovers’ bed the scent of
   newly melted snow lingers.
Pleasure that has survived the winter, a child’s mitten, a
   bottle of wine, empty.
What is constant is in transformation, in the losses, yes,
   in what is transitory.
No light is like the light of human beings.
Why complain that the river streams toward the sea, these
   marvelous banks, gliding, past

Translated by Rika Lesser


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