the dead man is still hanging
from the crystal chandelier in the dining room. his black
patent-leather shoes graze your hair as you
eat dinner

the gendarmes have moved in. they write out
arrest warrants on the tablecloths, which they tear
into strips and roll into their typewriters
you see it all clearly, like one who returns
from a trip and sees his apartment again
after a long time

they've been waiting here for many years
playing cards on the floorboards
and spritzing soda-water onto the wall-lice

the police captain moves a chess piece
"stranger, if you passing meet me ..."


there is no such thing as time. everything is happening now
and inside you. that summer
you think was long ago is happening now
and inside you

you are five years old you are ten
you are twenty-eight and are still sitting there
leafing through a pile of old weeklies from 1916
when the aeroplanes were big butterflies
with red white and blue circles on their wings
and the American soldiers were little tin soldiers
with leggings and scout hats

you built a marionette theater
out of old cigar boxes
(the warm smell of old cigar boxes

and the bumblebees outside the window)


the Indians stand ranged on the horizon
wrapped in their blankets. they are waiting

the little scout-soldiers have surrounded them
the small butterfly-planes buzz in the air

they drop fire from the sky
the Indians catch fire one after another

you look out the window
the horizon is smooth again


there is no order other than the one
you create yourself. everything is one huge mess
and is happening now and you can't manage to open
the window

the farmers outside are wearing blue overalls
and have strings in their hands. you pull
on the strings and they rise high
above the green earth. you're hanging
from a string in the marionette theater. a lonely child
is speaking above your head while the grass is dying
outside the window

motors shut off, the aeroplanes disappear behind the sun


he passed his hand across the chess board
swept all the pieces onto the floor
"you don't understand this. you haven't
mastered the tactics of the game"
"cut down the body" he continued
in his monotone voice

                                                                     Translated by Roger Greenwald.



in your childhood

the rain flows down the tile roofs

of Ulvsunda Street

and a stream of children in blue gym suits

flows over a leather-covered "horse"

while a whistle screeches irritably. Blue

gym shoes across the varnished floor. they

pass by in silhouette

as at a shooting range


play hopscotch on one foot

between life and death. a gaudy marble

rolls straight across the sidewalk

knocks over a tin soldier


1954 and the jackdaws scream above the ridgepoles

the guys in the neighborhood feel up her breasts

over and over behind the auto repair shop "Goddammit!

Goddammit!" she hisses

but comes back every day. they

can't figure out if she likes it or not

and she knows

that they will never dare to kiss her

never. never

it's Tuesday 5 o'clock

and there's a smell of fried Falun sausage

from an open lighted window. in the background

the scornful grating laughter

from an old Dodge


she gives back to her childhood

a frayed jump-rope, a blue gym suit

a couple of bookmarks with pink angels

and the Motala radio station. she

keeps going, through banks factories parking garages

a gigantic marble

comes rolling toward me



                                                                     Translated by Roger Greenwald.





Here at the edge of the forest each second becomes

unimaginably large, each grain of sand

a boulder. Behind my back: potato fields

small pink fists clenched in the clay


for birth, already living

like the stones, slowly, in the dark

gradually changing.


In ikons children are born

with faces radiating light.

Like staring at the sun

and it will remain there

even though the darkness is creeping in

from the edges. At night I hear

our children wake up and cry. I saw them being born

in blood, being washed

and laid on clean sheets.


The world grows into them

first Mama. They drink her in. No person

is more important than you. Only the sun

is more important than you.




To enter a tree

pass through a tree.

On the other side

you are another person.


One can find one's way if one remembers

that all trees are different. Flickering light

from flashlights, dogs barking

raised voices. The search line is combing the woods

for lost children.


In red rubber boots they are making their way

toward the east

or the west, toward the north

or south, always deeper into the woods.

The water rises in their boots

makes their socks as wet

as the moss in their pockets.


They will never return here.




I lie awake

and hear them crying, hear how the woods

are growing into them. They drink water

from black tarns, fall asleep

among the bracken, wake again

at the shriek of the chain saws. Blue blades

cut through their lives.


In the middle of the woods: the sound from a city. Car headlights

peek out from the badger-burrows, children

lonely and grieving

as in large airports. It's the hour

when dogs return


with bloody strips of cloth in their jaws.


Great titmice call from the trees:




Children fall out of the trees.





                                                                     Translated by Roger Greenwald.

                                                                      1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1993 by Gunnar Harding
                                                                     Translations 2005 by Roger Greenwald
                                                                     All rights reserved.