I’ve been granted permission to search the house
and kick in the door of the villa
where for eighty years my parents
have quarreled about money.
I demand to know with what right
they decouple the laws of nature
and make a grim joke out of trust─
they quarrel so like the Olympian gods,
with mortals as their weapons.
But my parents, failing to understand, stare
at their inexplicably aged son
with a quivering permit in his hand.
And then throw themselves back into the quarrel
without seeing how the sharp words
are about to rough two human lives.
Was I a farmer’s youngest son
ineligible to receive any land
and therefore set to become a priest?
If so, I failed my father and his faith.
I might have become a dentist.
I have had a couple of German years
that yielded sympathy for Hitler’s Reich,
so I understand the eternity to which I am condemned:
this starved murmuring from the camp barracks.
My children have clearly disassociated themselves.
Two wives are there, as faint echoes,
the one is crying and martyrdom,
the other sarcasms and beatings.
I defend my only real memory─
an evening among silent mountains
a fragrance of bogmyrtle and cloudberry mire.
Above me a mute loon.
Let’s now examine an early picture.
The light in the room facing the lake is so strong
that the boys are translucent.
The birthday child is invisible─
my eye cannot perceive its frame.
The truck, made as a fourth birthday present,
is enormous and black as fate itself.
It carries whoever dares to ride on its bed
into another future than the expected.
It’s here somewhere it will happen any moment now.
Every detail must be documented!
And the fingerprints on the doorhandles
must be carefully brushed into visibility.
I believe I was unwelcome in this life,
only temporarily married into reality.
What I remember are the chisel cuts of fear
to be forced to harm my boys,
the very ones who would revenge me.
I probably nourished them with my self-contempt
But yet I raised them to jobs with a status.
If only their eyes hadn’t become
of the same blackish stone as my own!
Even here I’m unwelcome,
in this land of silence and fumbling shadows.
My attempts to get out of this heritage of stone
and at last reach my boys with tenderness
scare the other frozen ones down here.
How could the sky above Strömsund
one Spring day in 1934
suddenly be laced with cracks
and an ice-blue sheet of it fall down
and shatter to pieces over the roofs?
Equally incomprehensible is my name
which my parents quarreled about, resulting in
what has proved invalid abroad.
They did however agree on a face
that could attract misunderstanding─
already at the age of eight
I was condemned to a future prison.
The childhood they thoughtlessly forced upon mespread cracks through my later life.