___________ 

No. 8-9

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Lennart Sjögren 

Translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton

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In the middle is our place

In the middle is our place.
We often thought we came from 
another census district 
but from there weíve been banished.

Sometimes when you open your slanting jaw
and break the otherwise unmoving 
evening waters 
we think some reconciliation is possible 
ó or at least a pact.

You whip up a storm then 
and the waves roll away with lacerated backs 
where the rainbow renders its complete repertoire 
and as for the drowned 
ó no-one bothers to count them.

In the middle where we live there is no tranquility.
Fish
have you somewhere else you can show us?
 

The Prison

It was a dream 
and it was more real than the day 
a scream pierced the sky.
It came from the humans 
and from the beasts 
ó those two species that live 
so close to each other.

Then the night passed ill at ease.

Yes butterflies did emerge 
here and there 
some very beautiful 
frantically they sucked each otherís life 
and the world then 
was like a richly decorated prison 
with gilded instruments of torture 
ó those taken there 
were, happily, hard of hearing.

The dream was more real 
than the day which followed.
 

A Clear And Late Summer Evening

Inside the ash-trees 
which the years have scooped into mortuaries 
holes of dark light wait.

The night more imprisoned than any time 
before.

The stones on the road say 
they met a man 
going in the direction of the end of his life.

Someone carries a basket of sorrow.
Hereís my life she says 
this is what my life came to.

Birds that were no longer birds 
died on the branches at the same time as the sunlight 
but sat on there.
 

from The Fish

Fish
you swim through the catacombs 
and with your fins penetrate stone 
then plunge out of sight in the deep water 
ó the water scarcely to be heard 
murmuring beneath the stone.
Behind you
you leave the sign 
interpreted: the one returning through death.

You live in the sand beds 
you live in the wild currents 
where the vessels founder.
You are caught 
ground to flour, displayed in the frozen food counters.
You carry a hook in your mouth 
you carry it like a crozier.

You disappear.
In the disappearing you have your life.
You return.
In the returning you have your life.
 

Late, Early

I

Rested my hand against the wall 
to feel if the brick warmed 
when I took it back 
my palm had loosened.

The wall said nothing 
I stood there with no palm 
and no knowledge 
but I did understand 
that the brick was another brick
than the one that simply gives warmth
and that the heat was another heat.
 

II

In a still unfurnished room 
thereís a birch leaf in a glass 
nothing has yet been used 
itís the room of the lovers 

and itís very early.
 

III

Each morning the knowledge returns 
of the prison 
what the nights know is always greater 
but is already forgotten at dawn.

On the gravestones 
the names are weathered away.
 

IV

Itís late, and itís very early.
The wall I touched
was very large.

 

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