Paavo Haavikko
Translated by Anselm Hollo
from The Winter Palace

The Second Poem

And I asked him,
The bird
Who is identical with myself,
I asked him for the road, and he said:
It is best to leave early,
As soon as the morning papers
Burst forth from the night, like leaves. . .

When the paper came, I folded it up,
Not caring to read it,
Started out
Across the square.
Of course, I tend to exaggerate;
But then, in my mind,
Fingernails come as big as
Tortoises. . .
And I proceeded
Towards this person whose name is Fear,
His manners CD,
His memory O, or less.

I was matchstick-size, and I lit the paper
To be able to see through the rain.
It rained and rained,
There I was, cowering,
Striking the match, and again, at last it caught fire
And the smoke flew –

Such terrible coughing!
As if someone was breathing
Live birds
And a tinkle,
A bottle a-tinkle

And in that bottle,
Presumably, an exalted being –
I almost cried,
In a bottle!
The being I wanted to meet,
In the bottle.

It was Fear,
I cried out and it burned,
If it had heard, that burned,
If it had archives, they burned,
It was a terrible fire,
Spreading from line to line.

And the bottle was wrapped in papers
Like an apple-tree in autumn.
And it crept out of the bottle.
That was a crazy journey.

And it was she, she jumped from stone to stone,
Line to line,
It's all on fire, up to fifteen lines
From here,
There she was, bounding along, and I asked her:

O being, exalted, flying fox, I ask you, tell me:
Where is the region that is no place?

And she replied,
It is no place.
I am a rose,

I grew big, the world burst out of me,
And the shame of it
Makes me cry!
I want to be empty again!
I! Abort myself!
Oh, that I left my world,
Here no one knows me!

And those were all
The words we had.

That was the journey along the rocks
By the sky's shore.