Friday, April 08, 2016

F O T O, poems 51 - 60

Martingården, at Nybyn, Överkalix

[Image source:]

51. (Sparkstötting, cartwheels, anchor Överkalix)

The last generation of the old kit
is lovely decaying among the flowers.

Peasant — aristocrat. Against much logic
the trace of your famished life fed my eyes. 

52. (In the cafe/junkshop, Överkalix for Rachel)

Drawers striped with dust, old annuals, kettles, handles;
a tea-mist forms, but you’d brighten it Rachel,

you who quarry the auction browns with warm eyes,
no sentiment of loss. Everything’s up for renewal.

53. (On the drive south)

The stitches out, 600 miles of rain, our last wee-halt
in the woods that smell of humus, then Utanede by midnight.

Back seat dark, still warm. Dad’s hand on the wheel,
plump with bandages, roosts... no. is bright and alert.

54. (Brushing my teeth in the garden)

Dawn sat in the ghost-farm; perhaps took coffee...   
Shadows have pates now: flowers inch open.

An insect whirrs at the grille. Peeking out,
the aspen is glittering. I stumbled into the sun.

55. (Mum in the hammock)

For two minutes and a photograph
you put your feet up. Green morning sunshine.

For eight seconds you gazed across the valley,
swaying between a birch and pine, wishing nothing.

56. (Långfil)

Corner snipped, the carton pumped in my hand,
& the fil flopped into itself in the bowl.

So lovely and white, my spoon hovered,
a bather on the brink. Then I dogged it all.

57. (Dad chopping kindling)

You’ve thought of it all week, the treacherous block
where the axe clanged and split your hand.

Now you have to go back. To do what you dreamt, in shock,
in the muddle of blood: be calm and it’s gone, you rewind...

58. (Sickling the garden)

The hip-high grass, the wineglass bellflowers
toppled, strewn hither and thither. A rake rasps

bouncing on the cellar slopes. They drank their saft  
and swished, from the rust-red walls, stray wisps...

59. (Eyes closed in hammock)

The sun lurches, and the ground tilts, the red cottage;
you shove off, and go sleeping on the wing.

Under your eyelids, the day broadens.
Deep in your shadows, how loud the birds sing! 

60. (Sawing logs)

Chock. I wiped the saw with a clout of grass,
its hot teeth resiny. Racked in the shed, all mine:

so long may I read and dance, so many winter days! 
(But their records go on playing: sap, sweat, rain...)


Back-story. 51-53. The road trip ends, with a day of driving through steady rain. Brief stop for coffee and a loppis at Överkalix in Norrbotten.

53, 57. While L. and I were cycling round Abisko (37 - 50), my dad was at a hospital in Kiruna having the stitches taken out of his hand, following a recent accident with an axe.

54. Waking up in the morning at the summer cottage in Utanede, last seen in Poem 2. This is the locale for the rest of the sequence. Fine weather suddenly, after a very wet summer. Time for the outdoor chores (57, 58, 60).

54. The ghost-farm. An abandoned building on the fringe of the village, hence higher up the slope of the river valley and catching the morning sun earlier. The rural villages of Jämtland (like rural areas elsewhere) are reduced in population; empty buildings are commonplace.

56. Långfil. A regional variety of fermented milk with added butterwort, which gives it a ropy texture (hence "long fil").

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