Friday, 4 June 2010

Translation of a poem by the Swedish writer Eva Ström, taken from her collection 'Rib Cities'

Spectacular bodies

I do not travel alone toward the anatomical theatre
where the body is read as divine symmetry

The small monkey scratches the examining man’s scalp
and the dog chews entrails through scent strands of violence

The one with me builds his chapel out of Thou-shalt-not
but simultaneously whets the knives on wet grindstones

The criminal is the text that will discover the wonder
when the grave-desecrators furnished Dr Knox with material

The darkness enveloped the vagabonds and homeless
Now they lay instead in the gutter by Tottenham Court Road

In the street of home interiors they furnished their own corner
while the rain dripped in their sealed gazes

a finger pad’s imprint in a uniquely carved pattern
betrayed the presence of bodies that were still warm

Someone walking alongside said: There is no natural religion
before stretching out his hand and asking for change

but his pupil was silent, a doll in constant ground frost
evacuated and homeless the sight-bark was driven out.

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