blackbirdonline journalSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Swedish by Patty Crane


The fish restaurant on the beach, humble, a shack erected by castaways. Many turn back at the door, but not gusts from the sea. A shadow stands in its smoky hut and fries two fish according to an old recipe from Atlantis, small explosions of garlic, oil flowing over the tomato slices. Every bite says the ocean wishes us well, a humming from the deep.
She and I gaze into each other. Like climbing the wildly blooming slopes without feeling the slightest fatigue. We’re on the animal-side, welcome there, not getting any older. But we’ve been through so much together, we recall, also moments when we weren’t worth much (like when we stood in line to give the prosperous giant blood—he’d ordered transfusions), events that would’ve divided us had they not united us, and events we’ve forgotten together—which haven’t forgotten us! They’ve become stones, dark and light ones. The stones in a scattered mosaic. And now it’s happening: the fragments are flying together, the mosaic appears. It’s waiting for us. It radiates from the hotel room wall, a violent and tender design, maybe a face, we don’t have time to grasp it all while we’re pulling off our clothes.
At dusk we go out. The headland’s enormous dark blue paw drapes over the sea. We walk in the human vortex, shoved around amicably, gentle controls, everyone talking eagerly in the foreign tongue. “No person is an island.” We gain strength from them, but also from ourselves. From what’s within us that the other can’t see. That can only confront itself. The innermost paradox, the garage flower, porthole to the good darkness. A drink bubbling in an empty glass. A loudspeaker broadcasting silence. A footpath growing back after every step. A book that can only be read in the dark.  

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