No. 4 & 5


Arne Johnsson  

Translated from the Swedish by Lars Ahlström  


The Ground Shone
Also in the Dream

touched your shoulder, saw – not your gaze but your eyes and their light
grey yet towards blue, the veil that made me remember water 
a very long time ago and the shimmering fish that cautiously re-
garded the shadow against birches and sky

in my childhood I followed creeks and trenches, with our heels we drew winding systems of channels in the gravel. These memories hold no colours but the water is clear blue, like the vase in the window, the one with a few straws of red fescue and hairgrass. Memories tells me that my life as it is now is connected to what it was a long time ago. Just as now, in the daytime, the darkened air is criss-crossed by movements and long past dawn the grass is still wet with dewdrops

the warmth lifts the dampness, each particle is transparent but assembled a body of immeasurable weight lifted like a bundle of cloth, clothes hid in the grass during the night. The trees are embraced, are in the burden, remain there while it rises, they do not move but show more and more of grandeur and names:

I talk about that which is in my heart, if there in its hollow are yards and grounds, trees, moisture that rises: can I then also compare it to something else, can I in the same movement hide and show, lift and let be:

I eat my breakfast, get dressed, take my bag and step outside. Wind carries leaves back and forth along the street, clouds of yellow and red swirl in the air, it is and is not a body

light seizes us without limits, I move past you, turn round, let you pass me: if someone once experiences happiness he turns his gaze backward without fear: 
once when I was a boy, as I ran through the forest an afternoon in spring someone called to me from a glade. The shoes flopped about from the wetness over the path, nose running, the cold rested in ice pads and dirty snowdrifts in the shade of firs and rocks, I was out of breath and with rosy cheeks. I may have imagined, maybe the blood running through the ear, maybe I was afraid of everything that was not me. “If I had stopped and listened yet once more?“ I think much later. “If I had done as when you called for me?“:

once again I say that I do not know you. Are you waiting in the fleeting shadows under the trees

the pain lingers on, like a swarm of curses it has spread to all of my body, in the fluids, in the thoughts. I clasp myself with one hand, scooping cold water with the other: the coolness is a gale over ground, it cleanses me:

as I work, by screens, with books, hammer or saw, running in stairs to fulfil wishes, find texts, fragments of a greater knowledge: I am still harboured in myself, dressed in all I do not know

dreamed about falling, dreamed I was dreaming, fell through dream after dream. Steps outside, in spite of the sunshine the wind is cutting. I wrap my jacket tight round me and saunter down towards the lake. The light is bright. It blinds me, in the light I see only the light:

one who is by the water is telling his child about the fish, saying that they are there and that if we could put our hand against the surface as against the skin we would feel their movements like currents and trembles against our fingertips and palm:

I let signs, paper change places with other, new washes over the old every day. Children rush through the streets, flocks of birds drift in the wind; you, your name – I find you and find you not, I stroke with my hand touch the things gently

By each and 
 one I saw
  your shadow 



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