Monday, 9 March 2009

Poem by Anni Sumari

Here is Göran, here is Marisa.
They have nothing in common except
that both have slept in your bed,
though at different times, without meeting.
You don’t care, you’ve decided they do have something in common:
Göran and Marisa.

You’re afraid of the night and the spider of punishment.
So you create more people to keep you company,
to share the spider of night.
Isn’t fear a good enough reason for the work of creation?
After all, you know that in spite of assertions to the contrary
I don’t exist. You don’t exist.
We have never met.
Reincarnation happens faster than you blink an eye —
you blink, and look, it’s already happened.
Everything you see is reincarnated
over and over again.
We see each other, all the same.
We see what doesn’t exist.

You know that you don’t exist, and you unswervingly take advantage of it.
If anyone tries to tie you to “yourself”, to your past,
to the words you don’t want to remember,
to the promises you made from curiosity to see the consequences —
then you perform the vanishing trick, slip away through your hands,
sucked through the walls like the sigh of a Moor.

You are poured from one cup to another,
and it is over.
Wouldn’t it be more clever of you
to create a few fantasies, illusions,
a Göran and a Marisa.

does not like flowers, because they are small.
“It would all be different if the petals were a metre long,” he says.
The enchanted garden begins to take shape,
the stamens and pistils crawl out of their holes with arms outstretched.
Not one flower with petals less than a metre long.

Marisa too feels comfortable in this kind of garden.
She has suffered a lot, that’s what she says.
She has been rejected and oppressed, hated through no fault of her own
and squeezed juiceless as a grater.
Marisa has been abused as much
as one can abuse
something totally worthless.

Marisa had the guts to tell you a story and told it well,
you smiled, but that was all there was to give
and all that Marisa would want to have,
and then a nightingale sang.
You heard it: a nightingale sang.
And Marisa said: “A nightingale sang.”

Her vigorous gaze
her tangled need of love
was just like anyone else’s.
and you had no more pity for her than for anyone else,
and you were no gentler to her than to anyone else.
As the nightingale sang it became obvious
that there was a world even more cruel,
even more perfect.

Marisa said: “Haven’t I fought like a stone
against all kinds of wearing away?
At the same time I rolled out of everyone’s hands.
There are two people in me who develop at different speeds:
one, wanting less and less, until I don’t want anything.
and one, able to give less and less, until I can’t give anything.

I can feel my body better and better,
or more exactly its presence,
It anchors my mind more powerfully,
I suffer from its presence more than before.
I’m a stone I will drop on my own face
after I’ve lifted it over my head.”

Everything sinks,
everything subsides
except one’s breathing.
A little movement out
and then a drawing in.
From one’s breathing one can conclude
that space is not expanding infinitely.
Now “it” is breathing out,
because the celestial bodies
are moving farther from each other,
but the breathing in will follow.
Unless before that the spirit ends.
The spirit that was supposed to be endless.

Göran says: “What’s peace?
Hey, I’ve got peace in my soul.
At least at home I know I’m home.
Every night I stare at the blue of the TV
and masturbate as I caress a fur hat.”

The time glows in the dark garden of the television screen.
The times light up one by one,
reveal themselves to their coevals, go out in the darkness.
The heavy darkness presses down, shrinks together.
Life passes by, but past what?
With each breath the memory inhales oblivion.
The Pain-healer puts the hooks away
for later use.

Breathe deep, there they are.
Cute identical twins,
you noticed them right on the first day:
the losing and the winning.
Just as surely as the one goes out,
the other comes in,
and you are no longer sure
which is which.

The inner dialogue continues briskly
on the only branch of a lonely tree.
The characters of the dialogue are born into their roles,
enter from the wings when needed.
Göran and Marisa quickly take their places, their problems —
they arrive in the situations to which they are summoned.
So different from the inner monologue’s
unreliable narrator.

Because of the fear and the darkness
on the outskirts of town things happen
that make innocents suffer.
Rapes, armed robberies,
the new life is born there.
Here is Göran, here is Marisa.

Göran and Marisa filled your bed, your space, your desires.
Without the long, transparent chain of primary causes
they combined in you to make an imaginary creature,
perfect, hermaphrodite.
Their astonished faces in a bed, down a well
or on an island anchored in the ocean
to which the perfect being flees.

Anni Sumari

translated from Finnish by David McDuff


Anonymous said...

Hey there,
I'm translating one of Sumari's poems as my final project for poetry translation course. I'm trying to figure out which of her poems have appeared in print in English. Would you happen to know?


David McDuff said...

Suggest you try