Lars Forssell
translated by Anselm Hollo
from Modern Swedish Poetry in Translation
edited by Gunnar Harding and Anselm Hollo


Mariage avec Dieu



They all stopped talking
when Romola opened the door
There was something in the air, she thought
like the big bird on the wing
himself, in flight, the famous
crevade, in slow motion


"What is it?"
Berthe's beet-red fingers
stood still in the dough
Marcello said "Niente"
but Heinz came out with it:
"When I was a boy
I was often sent out on errands
for Herr Nietzsche
and toward the end
he acted just like Herr Nijinsky does now"


She caught up with him in the village street
He was wearing the heavy gold crucifix over his tie
stopping everybody and exhorting them
to make absolutely sure they went to Mass
Romola grabbed him "That is enough
enough of that Tolstoy nonsense
You're making a fool of yourself"


"But my dear Romola, the world's eyes are upon me
The women are copying my costumes
They're painting their eyes aslant
because I happened to be born
with these high cheekbones
It is I, even more than Chanel
who determines the era's fashions
Why should I not try to start this new fad:
to seek the Truth?"


He called this his marriage to God
Married to God, he said he was


Very soon after they took him to the clinic in Zurich
condemned in his absence
in contumaciam


To quote the Professor
"Either he is insane
or simply Russian"
To quote the Americans
"He was crazy all right"

"Whispering, they gather round
I can hear my muscles talking
in little squeaks in
the chair I'm sitting on
They flock around
les comtes et les comtesses
clouds of perfume
or water bugs on the brown pond at Mazr
Quelles fesses!
Such opulence!

"I turn my back to them

"But now there is this horrible stench
I mustn't cry now
Down there on my wrist a muscle opens
a mouth, a little child's mouth!
You'll dance tonight
In a stench of Chanel you'll dance tonight
Dance like a rose

"Then I whisper back to my wrist
In a little while
I'll dance in a little while
in a year, in millions of years
but all they want to do is close their eyes.
For millions of years.
Dance, dance myself hard, a hard-on.
Dance the War for you, with no arms.
Explode in midair, so my guts fly out!
The War, the war you did nothing about."

Then, he danced them the War,
and no one had seen anything like it,
before, or ever since.
The lady at the piano,
notes Romola, tried to keep up with him
bravely, and to the best of her ability.