Solid, intangible

26 September 2013 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Mot natten. Dikter 2010 (‘Towards the night. Poems 2010’, Schildts & Söderströms, 2013). Introduction by Michel Ekman


If you give me time
I don’t weigh it in my hand:
it’s so light, so transparent
and heavy as the thick
shining darkness
in the backyard gateway
to memory


The houses climb around
but the streets have their chasms
children see with the backs of their heads.
From behind window grilles they see
the windswept trees,
black hands waving
motionless, blind.
If only they could open
all the closed and sleeping ones,
like a cut in a pumpkin
blood-red, with seeds
like stars.


Someone is coming out of the mist.
t’s the garb of a stranger he draws
like a mantle after him. Not seeing you
he walks past, softly calling.
It’s your name he called.
Didn’t he see you or did he just
want to call to someone he didn’t know.
Perhaps you should have answered.

Do you follow me

Do you follow me when I grow afraid
               of being alone?
Do you follow me when a darkness
               from outside
or from something inside me at midday
               falls over me
leaving me sight-impaired, chilled through?
I am used to your warmth, we exchanged it
               a long, long time.
Do you follow me when I or you
               are no longer visible
in our old, shabby rooms, but step out
               to a pure morning
with a gentle breeze, the lingering song of the years
               across the grass?


The joy when even the song of birds
falls silent, and in the clear evening
the light descends, through you
into the darkness and lifts it
from us.

If mountains too

If mountains too descended into me
and shadows of the trees concealed
a scent of birdcherry and linden play
around the honey of warm days, the bees’
song and June’s clarity – if all this
turned into night, yet still my eye
would seek the sky’s vault and the grass,
my heart would seek the poem’s clear star
and words that were the dawning morning
in silence hold the gleam of longing
and aim to outlive death:
a ‘Let there be light’.


From the southern rock
a wild view out across the sea,
hovering above the fog
the islands’ cliffs.
Far away just cloudless air.
Here, close to,
dark forest on the other
side of the bay.
As in life
the far away invisible
yet there,
the near at hand solid, intangible,
and softly in the seen,
sorrow, being forced to leave
all this.

The steppe

Like an opened door of light the steppe
rises in front of him, opens the grass
and bends over the flickering of the birds,
dizzying with spokes of grass under black clouds.
The sun, a blood-filled fruit
rolls slowly down into an invisible chasm
where the birdsong spreads like beads of rain,
thin silvery drops of yearning for his home –
the plain sways through his body,
fills him like a sunflower turning to the light,
gently, as if a calloused life
with sleep’s hands stroked his hair
and whispered in his ear: courage!
Oh, this scent of miles-wide wonder!
Time itself slumbers in the creaking of the cart
that under heaven’s starry vault
leads him in towards unknown, mysterious
life, like a dark, open space.

Translated by David McDuff


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