Suddenly here, fully present

5 April 2011 | Fiction, poetry

The women in mirrors who recur in the work of Aila Meriluoto (born 1924) are poetic figures who have featured in her poetry since her first collection, published in 1946. In these new poems, from Tämä täyteys, tämä paino (‘This fullness, this weight’), she also describes women who are ‘alive to the brim’ or ‘extreme ballerinas’. Introduction by Mervi Kantokorpi

We live in strange times
my skull full of echoes.
The rose has throbbed
the heart flowered.
In the mirror a girl on her head,
from the wall steps an old woman,
all of them familiar,
none remembered.

Suddenly here.
Fully present.
Eighty-five years.
Hands wrinkled, shaky legs.
And alive to the brim.
And over. Dripping.



I sprinkle memories around me
like roses.
The freshness, the presence!
Soon I shall be covered in them.
Greetings from life, ye mortals!


My love, whatever your name may be,
life always rolls over itself, jostling.
I should like to be one, simple.
But what to do about the layers,
All those names, colours, memories,
since nothing fades.

So just an unmarked stone, please.
Peel the names away, grind it smooth,
I do not wish for anyone any more.
Not even myself.


The dizzying sky of a summer night
above the dark outlines of the city.
Only one lighted window.
Far away there the light descends
over the whole landscape, up and down.
Abandons the levels.

But secretly everywhere
a stubborn altitude.


Have you finally reached your zenith,
light of the summer night?
Extreme ballerina
on the tips of your toes?
Do not stop moving.
Come down slowly, slowly.

The dance of living: sheer clumsiness
without that stagger of death.


Words move like birds.
I look at the flocks disappearing beyond the horizon.
Soon I shall be mute as the forest.
The trees fall silent, no rustling,
no twittering.
What is there left to express myself with?

Am I losing my music?
Hearing is hearing,
but even my inner being can sing.
Can sing without sound,
without words
deep inside is a stone that sounds.
To itself.

No words. A smile.


A very slow, broad note,
perhaps largo.
The white lily remembers against the window,
another, budding, is as yet only beginning to experience.
Everything has a meaning.
To understand it like this!
Not suddenly – slowly, holding back
to open oneself like a bud.
This fullness, this weight.
Linger a little, wait.
Ripen. Only now will it happen,
still yourself, do not squander.
Do not be content with the passing second.
Now it is born.
The eternal present.


I have edged my dark window with stars.
In the middle quivers a blue butterfly.
Much happens these days.
Someone is talking about unimportant things
on the blue screen.
So much goes missing
when it is constantly present.
Dangerous, dangerous.
Set the alarm clock
so that the angels cannot surprise you.

Translated by Hildi Hawkins


1 comment:

  1. Sureyya Yigit

    I am so pleased that one of my favourite poets of all time continues to write. I have remained in awe of Meriluoto ever since I first went into a Helsinki bookshop and bought her first published poetry book and came across the poem twenty summers.
    More than twenty summers have passed since I first read it but I am still haunted by it. I look forward to Aila Meriluoto celebrating her 90th birthday and beyond.
    Thank you for your works, through which you have made the world a kinder, more beautiful place – just like your heart. 25 July 2013 – Istanbul.

Leave a comment