from <cite>One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake</cite> The translations below represent a brief selection from the most recent book of poems by the Finland-Swedish poet Tua Forsström, En kväll i oktober rodde jag ut på sjön (One Evening in October I Rowed Out on the Lake). As in her previous collections, the poems are largely devoted to meditations on the texture of human experience, tinged with pathos and dry humour – the fragility and frailty of human relationships, the awareness of death and the dead, the acknowledgement of the world of creatures and animals and a sense of solidarity with it, the conflict and harmony between childhood, memory and present time, and above all the perceived strangeness and intensity of ‘ordinary’ lived encounters, and of the processes of life itself. The poems are arranged in a lyrical, suite-like sequence that owes something to the forms and devices of musical composition. They are surrounded by a stillness that recalls the well-known  seventh thesis of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. The Finland-Swedish literary critic Michel Ekman has written a searching introduction to the poems of the new book in the online magazine Books from Finland, and readers may like to follow what he has to say:

www.booksfromfinland.fi/2012/11/winter-journey/

There are more of my translations of poems from the new book at:

www.booksfromfinland.fi/2012/11/the-dead-speak-kindly/
 



​There are four kinds of darkness and the wolf
runs on strong paws through your dream

We grow weaker in the astronomical dawn,
the pulse drops, we become cold-blooded

while the stars fade
and set beneath the horizon

There are stars of such
magnitude that we are amazed

February morning with blue and clouds above
the snow and the tracks of paws in a straight line

because the wolves don’t let themselves be distracted
like us who play for a while with our hopes 

and oblivion. This flat is very small
One another’s tracks through the heart the snow
 



I said that I have been on a lifesaving course, that I
can fetch adults and children and old folk out of the water
It didn’t feel good but then I remembered that it was true!
I signed the document with my name and pledged
to save everyone in the pool. One takes the person in one’s arms
and puts them on the tiled floor and blows life into their
body, with one’s lips against their lips.  After that one mustn’t
separate. I walk down to the shore, dive off
the jetty into the cool water and swim out diagonally towards
the island with the small lily pond. It’s further than
I remembered, but I have swum that stretch before.
 



I write to my doctors   
that I saw Gleaming Lights of the Souls

at Louisiana Art Museum, and that I can’t
forget the feeling of weightlessness, transparency in space,

the sense of really floating, the reflections
reflected by reflections

Someone took my hand and connected the lonely parts
eyes lips the heart flowing through everything

and I thought of how we are made of water, the longing
and the dust particles in the wind that blows

coolness in our faces in the evening
Cloud shadows move across the water on the way home,

the aeroplane’s small shadow and the seabed’s green variations
The soprano sings: ‘Ich sah dich als Kind’

I stood on the floor with my bag in hand
and saw that all those shining points were us

and the reflections of one another
I had to leave, people of many

nationalities were waiting outside that small dark
room in Louisiana Art Museum
 



The next chapter is called: separating 
Small pathetic fish with striped backs by the jetty,
  look translucent in the water
They freeze to ice if the water freezes to ice
When I was little I wanted to put the pretty pictures
   to use: cut out, paste in, copy over
We don’t know about one another, one can’t
   keep track of everything