I dreamt about Sam Shepard last night Selected Poems of Ingela Strandberg Translated by Göran Malmqvist

I dreamt about Sam Shepard last night.
He said: “You can write on the steering wheel!”

We hugged one another each on one side
of a ladder in a shack in Duarte,
California. The air heavy with smoke from
a fire, dry grass, grains of asphalt. Sorrow.

Woke up and went out.

The landscape slept.
My landscape.
That’s where the picture came to be.
I invented it myself so
don’t take it away from me I hate
it but don’t take it away from me.

The barns. The barns.

The soil.
The placenta.
The density of everything. The scattering of everything.

Like the tattered plastic
around the graves,
the fumbling with sorrow.

Or like the shell around
that night in a Packard, the seagulls
the seagulls the circling the shrill cries
the circling and the picture
lying ready on the table.

That’s what everybody wants.

I puke on it.
But don’t take it away from me.

I was born here.
It was here I taught myself to
sing, to herd cows in half moons
around a clover field, to pull
out calves and perform tricks on the trapeze.

I taught myself mind’s material.
I taught myself what the empty
room consists of
and my body’s weight in it.

The landscape
owned me, loved me, opened
me, I can never be closed again.

It is my friend, it blows me around
itself, shares my boredom and my lewd ways, my
mischievous joy. The sorrow. It cleanses my
sores and blows on them. In periods of de-
cency it leads me to boggy labyrinths
soft as moss, it heals me as much as it
divides me, reaches me
across the oceans and calls me
till I return home sick of longing to get away.

It is in this landscape I stroll.

One moment wild geese.

A sleeping horse in the fog.

It belongs to the already doomed, the bullet
is already lodged in its heart, perfectly, because
I placed it there myself, no, I take
the bullet out again, I heal the animal’s innocence
with my guilt. The landscape demands it.

I do everything the landscape demands of me.

I dreamt about Sam Sheppard last night.
He said: “You can write on the steering wheel.”

We always dream when under way.

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