Sonja  Åkesson
translated by Anselm Hollo
from Modern Swedish Poetry in Translation
edited by Gunnar Harding and Anselm Hollo


To Be an Infant


to be carried on the arms of daddies
as conversational bait for strange ladies

to cause obsessions
to be flung off cliffs

to be choked strangulated varnished
covered with yellow ointment
to be canned and consumed

they puke
(infants do)

they don't want to be laved in yellow ointment
they don't want to be varnished

(infants have to be varnished
all the unsightly cavities
must be varnished over)

infants must be remodeled

the festival of the infants
is known as Xmas

that's when they burble so happily
over their little porridge bowls
that's when their blue eyes shine so blue
staring at faraway chimneys

then comes the time they aren't infants
they look down on the infants
on the infants' porridge bowls

they cover themselves with yellow ointment
they stare at their varnished knees

they swaddle the infants and varnish them
they sit over their porridge bowls
spreading the stuff on the infants
working it in
into all those awful unseemly cavities