Friday 11 June 2010

Opening poem of 'Rib Cities' by the Swedish poet Eva Ström

The floods

The floods have not reached us
not wiped out the roadway, not overflowed the fields

The squalls have not reached us
not torn up trees by the roots, not

blocked the roads, tossed the train from the rails
Three thousand railway workers have not cleared

one thousand one hundred trees. No stable roof has blown off
near Petersborough, no aircraft was forced

to make a second landing attempt with terrified
passengers. No Sharon Black, 40, was still shaking

when saying the words: I honestly thought
I was going to die. The entire reality

from Aberdeen to Dover, from Dublin
to the English Channel was enacted in the

virtual emptiness that unexplored is called your brain
And you shut your eyes and said: Where you are is not death

where death is you are not. But the water continued to rise
and the two schoolboys at Robertsbridge, East Sussex

continued their arduous path through the expanses of water
leading their bikes through the vast defoliation

since the river had once more burst the embankments
and inundated the land one could not see

until Stan Lewis stepped out onto the staircase of his shop in Bewdley
to feed seven swans floating on a mirror of calm.

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