YOU PICKED UP THE PLANET
by Eeva-Liisa Manner (1956)
To Erik Lindegren
You picked up the planet like an egg
and set it spinning
in slow motion on the floor of the world.
The stars arranged themselves upon request
around the red magnet
and formed singing mosaics, like swallows or notes of music.
Oh, this soaring Braille, grammar of space
that makes the birds happy,
those passionate instruments
above sedimented mountains and broken church towers.
Oh, sloughed-off faces of the indifferent ones
and the grudge of those who can no longer read
(except for cruel bibles, between whose pages doves and corpses have been dried).
Oh, woe to us here in the lonely place on the moon's side
hair and eyes in the wind, in our hands
uncertainty and the boomerangs of echoes.
Oh, these vaults of language, transforming the skies
into which the letters rise like flags of distress.
I look for the question to which this mutabor is the answer.
to pluck the letters' mutilated feet,
their gouged-out eyes,
in them is the wounded shining secret,
in which I lost my wings
before the development of discriminating fingers.
translated from Finnish by David McDuff and Hildi Hawkins