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

From Winter 1947

Those days at school in the dull teeming fortress.
At dusk I walked home under the signs.
Then came the whispering without lips: “Wake up, sleepwalker!”
and every object pointed toward The Room.

Fifth floor, the room facing the yard. The lamp burned
in a circle of terror every night.
I sat up in bed without eyelids and saw
filmstrip filmstrip of mentally ill thoughts.

As if it was necessary . . .
As if the last of childhood had to be smashed to bits
so it could pass easily through the mesh.
As if it was necessary . . .

I read books of glass, but saw only the other:
the stains emerging through the wallpaper.
It was the living dead
who wanted to have their portraits painted!

Until dawn, when the garbage collectors arrived
and clattered the metal trash cans down there,
the backyard’s peaceful gray bells
that rang me to sleep.  

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