Sunday, 26 April 2009

Your Love Is Infinite - 2


I pick flowers in the meadow. If I pick a very big bunch, I'll be able to decorate the whole house with flowers. Granny said that I could, before she went to the cowshed. Grandpa is in the cowshed, too, and I can play all by myself.

The whole big meadow is my playground!

I go into the long grass and lie down, and look at the sun. When I open my eyes, the world is yellow. I stroke my face and it is yellow too. And my hair. And my hands. And my feet.

I am like the sun.

I dig deep in the soil and come into being upwards. Slowly I come up from the soil in the form of a sunflower, rise above the stalks of grass, open my yellow arms and dance slowly, slowly I turn around like a flower, and the other flowers smile to me, nodding their heads approvingly. I am like the flowers, yellow, happy. I have a lot of friends, flowers.

Like a flower I dance a big circle around the meadow. Only the flowers are allowed to enter the circle. The flowers are good, scented with sun. The summer has made the flowers wise.

In my circle the flowers are able to grow into people. I will mix the right colours for them, give them advice if they come. But they don’t come. They just smile and go on swaying their light bodies, smile in a friendly way, but don’t want to come, want to stay far away from my circle.

The petals tremble above me. I dive into the clump of flowers and tear them from my face and head and feet. I claw the roots from deep in the ground and stuff them into my mouth. I grind the bitter-tasting pap in my teeth, and then a sharp spike of sand cuts a wound in my tongue.

The grass casts a black shadow over me. The sun has gone away, and there is no longer a smell of summer in me or the flowers. There's a bad taste in my mouth. The yellow dress is stained. Small soil-coloured rivers flow from my eyes to my cheeks and the neck opening of the dress. I lift the skirt of the dress and gather soil-sobs in my hands. The flowers, which I just whipped and killed, are sobbing in my hands, because the summer is only beginning and they must die.

I want to be punished. I want the flowers to come back from death and tear my hair, pinch me and mock me, tell me I am old and ugly and I will cry and they wll feel sorry for me and we will make an agreement and play at flower meadows again. We'll be a glorious flower meadow and I wll be the biggest and yellowest of all and the other flowers wll be small and pretty and happy.

But the flowers don’t come back, and neither does the sun. Granny comes from the cowshed. I stumble from the meadow into the yard towards her, try to climb into her arms, but the milk pails are in the way, clatter spitefully. Granny looks past me, sternly.

Only in the living room, when she sees the empty flower vases, does Granny remember me. She looks at me angrily and at once I start to explain that the flowers died and the sun went away, but Granny doesn’t listen, just sighs wearily and says that now Saara will get the birch.

The birch sounds horrible, like death. Fear mingles with the flood of tears, eats away at my cheeks and throat, does not end until I lie on my tummy on Granny’s knees. The birch rips my bare bottom. The floorboards of the living room come close, tempt me to stick out my tongue.

The sharp Smurf lemonade numbs the pain and the fear and I laugh when the matches fly out of my mouth with the spit. Granny beats harder and harder. The Smurf lemonade tastes sweeter and sweeter.

The grass and the flowers rise up from the pool of lemonade to tell me that now we are quits, and not to remember the past. We can play together again and I can be a big sunflower. I am happy.

When it’s over I hug Granny and say thank you Granny thank you Granny, again and again, until Granny gets cross and pushes the birch towards me, chases me out of the house and shouts after me that I must take the birch to the forest and bury it deep in the ground and put all the badness and wickedness in the same hole.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff

Your Love Is Infinite - 1


Eric Dickens said...

Having now read two excerpts, I find the childlike style oddly intriguing. I was wondering in the first excerpt whether the concept of "respect" would come to such a young child. And this sullying and wish for punishment is rather weird.

David McDuff said...

Peura's technique involves phrasing the psychology of a child in the language of the adults who surround her - she picks up words and expressions from her grandparents and others, and weaves them into her own child-language, which is a kind of dream-symbolist prose poetry. There is a great deal of violence in the book, though there's also a lot of lyrical tenderness. Not easy to translate, and the effect could be puzzling at times for a non-Northern Finn!