Thursday, 30 April 2009

Your Love Is Infinite - 3


The night spreads black shadow over the forest. The path disappears into darkness. Under my feet stones and moss, thicket and fear. I have walked a long way, but I still have not succeeded in burying the birch. The ground is stone-hard, and one can’t dig in it with one’s bare hands.

I climb onto a big rock to pray and let the fear trickle from the soles of my feet onto the ground. From inside the rock flows the strength to face the night, which urges me on the road to death.

Death is my friend. Waiting for me at death’s house is my guardian pony Zorro, who was slaughtered in a sausage factory. I walk through the air to heaven, where Jesus rides Zorro along a glowing path. The light tickles my angel’s wings. I jump onto Zorro’s back and sink my face in Jesus’ sun-fragrant hair.

The thunder of Zorro’s hooves drives all the fear out of the forest.

When I jump to the ground to look for food, Zorro and Jesus disappear. I pick black, foul-tasting crowberries and swallow them quickly, so that the crows don’t have time to notice.

God punishes me with thirst. I rinse my mouth with spittle, but the thirst doesn’t go away. I think about Jesus, who was hung on the cross for my sake and the sake of other sinners. Things went okay for Jesus. He died of thirst and followed Zorro to heaven.

I stumble onwards and come to a clearing covered with a soft carpet of sawdust. I sit down on the ground and let my strength go away. The smell of sawdust reminds of the time when the house was whole and Daddy sawed logs in the back yard. Mummy walked in the garden with the watering can and often looked at the sky, sat on the bench and let the clouds caress her shoulders. Under the bench there was a bottle of spirits, but Mummy didn’t drink from it very often. And when she drank, she began to laugh. She didn’t know yet that everything she ate and drank turned into poison. Then, when Mummy realized that life can’t be trusted, she picked up the garden shears and cut down everything she had planted.

The soft smell of the trees enfolds me in its embrace. I bury the birch deep in the wood-shavings, close my eyes and run to and fro on the carpet of sawdust. I run blind with happiness and see Zorro galloping beside me. When I open my eyes Zorro glances at me, laughing, and gallops out of the clearing.

From the edge of the clearing a rusty circular saw stares at me sadly. I carefully stroke its rough blade and cut my finger. I put my finger in my mouth and quench my thirst with blood.

The night drops a big swarm of gnats on the clearing where the circular saw is. I dive deep into the sawdust and the gnats only find little bits of me. I hope that soon they will suck their bellies full and then die happily.

I’m alive and thirsty. I want to go through sleep to death where no one is thirsty, neither gnats nor people. But sleep can’t manage to open death's heavy gates. It takes me to Daddy, exposing his even row of teeth which gleam in the sunshine like the furiously turning blade of the circular saw.

Daddy throws the logs in and the circular saw receives them, laughing a rusty screeching laugh with its sharp teeth, just like Daddy's.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff

Your Love Is Infinite - 1

Your Love Is Infinite - 2


Eric Dickens said...

It's an interesting style. Does it maintain this somewhat poetic style all the way through the novel? So far, a lot centres on memory, often bitter, plus rubbing up against reality. Does the book come to some sort of climax?

David McDuff said...

Yes, the dreamlike style of the child's monologue is maintained all the way through the book, but is broken into at intervals by italicized passages in dialect, which reflect the grandfather's (Grandpa's) thoughts and memories.

As for the progress of the plot, wait and see future posts - for example, in one excerpt I've translated a scene from near the end of the novel which will give some idea.