They turn the light off, and its white globe glows
an instant and then dissolves, like a tablet
in a glass of darkness. Then a rising.
The hotel walls shoot up into heaven’s darkness.
Their movements have grown softer, and they sleep,
but their most secret thoughts begin to meet
like two colors that meet and run together
on the wet paper in a schoolboy’s painting.
It is dark and silent. The city however has come nearer
tonight. With its windows turned off. Houses have come.
They stand packed and waiting very near,
a mob of people with blank faces.
AFTER A DEATH
Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.
One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.
It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armour of black dragon scales.
“Transtromer is the creator of unexpected images of apparently artless simplicity and staying power, possessing a unique voice full of understanding for human bewilderment and wonder. His is not an urban world, but one of forests, empty country roads and Baltic shipping channels, though also occasionally of African villages and hot, barren rooms. Life is a series of transitional states of consciousness and occasional moments of epiphany, but it is also at times both beautiful as well as mysterious.”
Awakening is a parachute jump from the dream.
Freed from the choking vortex, the diver
sinks towards the green map of morning.
Things magnify. He sees, from the fluttering lark’s
position, huge tree-root systems
like branchings of subterranean chandeliers. Above ground,
in tropical flood, earth’s greenery
stands with lifted arms, as if listening
to the beat of invisible pistons. And he
sinks towards summer, is lowered
into its dazzling crater, lowered
between fissures of moist green eons
trembling under the sun’s turbine. Then halts
the downward dive through time’s eyeblink, the wingspread
becomes an osprey’s glide over streaming water.
Bronze Age trumpets:
their outlaw tune
hangs motionless over the void.
In the day’s first hours consciousness can own the world
like a hand enclosing a sun-warm stone.
The skydiver stands under the tree.
With the plunge through death’s vortex
will light’s great chute spread over his head?
SKETCH IN OCTOBER
The tugboat is freckled with rust. What is it doing so far inland?
It’s a heavy burnt-out lamp, tipped over in the cold.
But the trees still carry colors – wild signals to the other shore as if
someone wanted to be fetched home.
On the way back, I see mushrooms pushing up through the grass.
Stretching for help, these white fingers belong
to someone who sobs down there in the darkness.
We belong to the earth.