The Nightman

 
I’m sleeping
with the Nightman

He visits every darkness
Slipping his damp essence
into my sleep

Nothing was as hard
As burying the stillborn, he says
Nothing could hurt me more
than to fill up their mouths
with earth

And neither could I stand
the naked horses after I had
pulled away their hides
But I forgot them little by little
Through tiredness
The bitter burn of salt
What I could not forget was
the young mothers or those
strangled children
Their thin blue eyelids
Windows into what never
has been

Their bodies were singing
ghastly hymns which I
reduced to silence by stones

I was kneeling
in the sedge
Comforted
by silence

Silence was the only
way I could go

I couldn’t pray, says the Nightman
Drawing himself backwards
into another darkness
away from my panic
Then disappearing outside the sunrise

I know—

Dead
the Nightman suffers
most from the sun

 

 

Nattmannen

 
Jag sover
med Nattmannen

Han kommer varje mörker
Smygande sitt fuktiga väsen
in i min sömn

Inget var så tungt
att gräva ner som de dödfödda, säger han
Inget gjorde mig så ont
som att fylla munnar
med jord

Jag tålde inte heller
de nakna hästarna
sen jag dragit av dem deras hudar

Men jag glömde dem så småningom
Av trötthet
Av den bittra svedan av salt
Men de unga mödrarna
kunde jag aldrig glömma
Inte heller de strypta barnen
deras tunna blå ögonlock
Fönster in till det som aldrig varit

Deras kroppar sjöng
fasansfulla psalmer som jag
tystade med sten

Jag låg på knä
i starrgräset tröstad
bara av tystnad

Tystnad var min väg

Jag kunde inte be, säger Nattmannen
och drar sig tillbaka
till ett annat mörker
bort från min rädsla

Försvinner sen utanför soluppgången

Jag vet

Som död
plågas Nattmannen
allra mest av solen

 

 

 

The Cart-horse

 
The old cart-horse
held himself to look
straight into the sun

A door opened
into a stable he never
stood in before
He drifted in as water
between the white walls
and ran out to a river
of horses
Concurrently
Slowly swinging
Like a funeral train

Nocturnal

Passing Order
after Order

He was a horse no more
He was all horses

Or
none—

Before everything
no one’s

 

 

Den gamla arbetshästen

 
Den gamla arbetshästen
ställde sig att se
rakt in i solen

Där öppnades dörren
till ett stall han aldrig
stått i förut
Han strömmade som ett vatten
in mellan de vita väggarna
och rann ut i en flod
av hästar
Sida vid sida
gungade de i takt
Långsamt
Som ett begravningståg

Nattligt

Passerade Ordning
efter Ordning

Han var inte längre en häst
Han var alla hästar

Eller
ingen

Framförallt
ingens

 

 

 

Narcissus and I

 
Narcissus and I
were the same kind

We used to sit by lakes

The car engines were running

We looked at ourselves
in the water
The echoes of our breaths
unlocked all doors of night

         Narcissus was
         my way out of chaos

The last step he took
he took without me

        They didn’t find him
        I said nothing

They wouldn’t
have believed me
anyway

 

 

Narkissos

 
Narkissos och jag
var av samma sort

Vi satt vid sjöarna
med bilmotorn igång
och såg på oss i vattnet
Ekot av våra andetag
låste upp nattens alla dörrar

       Narkissos var
       min enda väg ut från kaos

Det sista steget
tog han utan mig

       De fann honom aldrig
       Jag sa ingenting

De skulle ändå
inte ha trott mig

 

 

All poems are translated by the author.

 

Ingela StrandbergIngela Strandberg was born in 1944 in Grimeton, Halland, in southwestern Sweden where she still lives and writes today. She has published 11 collections of poetry, three novels, one short story collection, and a children’s book. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Bellman Prize, Sweden’s highest honor in poetry. Her latest book from Norstedts (Stockholm) is Att Snara en Fågel (To Trap a Bird).
 

Header photo by Bhakti2, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Ingela Strandberg by Sara Mac Key.

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