Mirkka Rekola
from I Love You, I Tell Everyone (1972)
Reprinted in 88 Poems (2000)
translated from the Finnish by Anselm Hollo

I Love You, I Tell Everyone


In the restaurant, eyes
above a soup bowl's rim.
Is it she?
Changes shape, is and is not.
Now she's spat out a bit of bone,
             I don't think it's her,
I'm leaving, I'm done eating.
This is a long and mad journey:
I see her on the faces of others, my own.




After I had spoken to her, I was overwhelmed by the daylight in the streets
The sun burst open. Strangers greeted me as if they knew me, in the dairy
shop, in the bank, and in front of the big school building. Three of them,
three that day. And I knew that I was moving through a new era, and that
heaven had, from the very beginning, risen above death, and that it now
rested at every step along the journey of your feet.
            The ones trained in the ways of moon and sun, they still recognize their
connectedness. I had been talking for a long time, always through the
consciousness they had been so grandly urging on me. As if it had not
already been there, the same, inside of which we sat at our small tables,
even in that bar, all our lines and problems predictable. You are here for
the world's duration, as briefly as it is.



Now you have received the whole city,
it is as small
            as if my fingers were moving
between yours.



Did I ever belong to a world
seen by someone as this desolate.



It's all a blink in the great eye
but I must break this bread
I eat.



Nine gates here in this park
and here lies buried a whole city.
The snow melts and the narcissi trumpet
Farther away, the pale chapel of summer
just as I remember it:
                          I believe
because I live even though I am dead.
And I remember autumn
            when I walked by
across red leaves shed by the mapletree's crown.



On the beach boulevard
as an old couple passed between us
I was going to say it to you.



Now I leave this death and move on, oh, thousands of years; including my
smile, I take cover behind the hair on my neck.
            This day's a little too remote for anyone to come or to go. All the
guests are late. They always have been. I waited. As if I had carried my
own body outside of itself. It's a year. It was years, spent by everyone as
their own time. Not even three summer moons remain, but I'm playing with a
child on the grass.



Like a big tin roof and on it a single sparrow I begin to hop this existence.
            Their carriages, those sparrows', twitter here all day long, then come to
a sudden stop, and I'm on my way and I say: well, we're here now, I always
wanted to see this place. And then we leave again, and again.
            But the big tin roof cools off at night and sounds like a drum. And when
the autumn storms arrive, I begin to sense what it is like to be the wind in
this system, as it shifts from one wing to the other and does not let me
sleep but urges me to express myself. Show that you're there, it says. Then
nothing. It grows stronger: its wings blaze white. The way a wind can be in
this land.



I was reading the Book of Job.
            People I knew came and went,
I read their book,
            the seasons turned away,
I had been reading for a long time.
It was quiet. Not a single leaf to be seen.
I looked up: it had gone dark on me,
that star
             in the middle of the sentence:

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?