Sunday 16 October 2011

Poem by the Swedish poet Lennart Sjögren

Who doesn’t dream

I saw a rat cross the road
it had a human face
it was a small rat
smaller than my shoe.
It asked me the direction of the place
where it could die in peace.
What was I to answer such a question
that was so like my own.
I tried half a biblical quotation:
go to the place where the dead bury
their dead – maybe it lies in the west.
But that didn’t help at all
and when I changed it to:
go to the place where the unborn
meet those still alive – maybe it lies in the east,
and inquire whether a death can be obtained
there at a reasonable price
it had already disappeared.

And who doesn’t dream of a quiet death –
the sooner the better one says
but does not mean anything by it.
Whether there was frost that morning
or summer – I can’t recall
but the dreams stood in queues along the road
not wholly unlike wingless upright birds.

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