Friday, 18 June 2010

The house of forgetting - 4

from Kastelimme heitä runsaasti kahvilla (ntamo 2009)

By Timo Harju

You stumble you tumble, you don’t find your way home,
the vaults of your tongue collapse. The hut of speech falls from the tree,
the shed of words ignites and burns in spring’s forest fire,
the forge of sentences is cold and still, you crouch, don’t rise,
scratching your nose with your absent mind. A nose that’s quite some size.
Goodbye nose.

All round let's sing, make papillotes, we’ve
time for lots of bedtimes, many plates of stew,
much talking.
while, carefully you
bent double
for hours and hours,
pick the crumbs from your pants
goodbye your pants that hold you in
goodbye your veins that keep you full of blood
goodbye your insides wriggling in a sack of skin.

Now, heap of wrinkles and furrows, I want to say
goodbye by having an early night,
by making my hands go every which way.
I start to wave in the empty room, goodbye goodbye...
How to say it, tomorrow you may not be here.
Your toenails, your dry soles, the fallen arches of your feet,,
your swollen ankles will be gone, your listless painful calves, their skin,
your knees, your knee joints, resting place of hands on thigh,
the thinning hair, the yelping tremors of your legs,
your worn out willies, dented hips
and all the body’s other scrips and strips.

When I asked you to get your stick from your room
you came back leaning on a toilet brush.
Hallelujah you cried when you couldn’t remember hi-de-hi.
You don’t cry hallelujah any more. Apart from that I don’t know much.
I've seen a photo album, which is hidden well,
so you won’t shred more photos in your zeal
yes and I’ve seen the harmonica you could sometimes play,
I’m here in my overalls, and so are you.
Which is why I’m saying goodbye to you.
I’m trying not to sit on top of you.

Goodbye your memory which I don’t know.
Goodbye your memory which you don’t know.
Goodbye chairs, carpets, ceilings, cabinets,
goodbye path of rooms, shadows of objects
whose flowering the others didn’t see.
Why the hell have you gone and broken now?

The care home’s in a mess old women burst from heads,
the stuffing rolls down the corridors hairy and sprattling
shy and smarting and kicking and sparkling and
softly eyeglass-like screaming prattling
and why has the stuffing in your head run out?
Why hasn’t your life stopped, is some soul alive in you instead?
What is really going on here?
goodbye your stooped and crazy mornings
goodbye your squelching
goodbye your vulnerable tenacity
goodbye your name
goodbye your nameless you
a closet bright with clouds
you can flap your hands
Bye bye airy reeds, and sea and sky,
suspenders stuck in a wc. goodbye.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff

See also in this blog:

The house of forgetting
The house of forgetting - 2
The house of forgetting - 3


Lev said...

As usual, brilliant! :-)

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Lev. It's the last poem in the collection, and probably the most difficult to translate. :-) This version tries to keep the rhymes, though the ending is phrased a bit differently in the original.

Lev said...

I'll try and write something about this wonderful collection and your translations into English in the future. This poem reads great! :-)

David McDuff said...

That would be great.

Лев Грицюк | Lev Hrytsyuk said...

David McDuff said...

Thank you, Lev - I'm sure Timo will be pleased, too.

Лев Грицюк | Lev Hrytsyuk said...

Thank you, David, for highlighting this wonderful book! And greetings to Timo! :-)