Rolf Aggestam 

                        (1941 -- )

                                from Swedish


-45 Degrees

                    We live in at least two worlds. In the third

                            you stand in the doorway

                                    with your hand on the electrical switch. All three



                                    Outside the kitchen window the snow

                                    burns blue. The fir shadows have frozen and

                                    squeak as they move.


                            You undress in the darkness,

                            appear like a gleam in a mist,

                            old acquaintance worn threadbare,

                                    dark-clefted life-struggler.


                    Then we leave the heavy dark bodies of our days

                            and talk ourselves into our night bodies

                            until death raises its lantern in the dark

                                    and recognizes us;

                                                    we nod to each other

                    and suddenly feel the weight of the darkness.


                                            Now we are compressed, heavy with sorrow

                    and soil,

                            completely visible.


                            translated with Lars Nordstrom; first published in Translation, (Columbia University, Spring 1984);

                                                    selected by Vi Gale for Between Darkness and Darkness (Prescott Street Press, 1989)


The Boat to Finland


     In the middle of the sea

     new voices are heard over the loudspeakers.

           They speak to us in a foreign tongue

          inside our windowless cabins.


          Long white bodies

          wrapped in dry-cleaned, glossy sheets

           and with wide open eyes


     have passed invisible territorial boundaries.

     The watermarked bills in our wallets are

     transformed into paper. Our watches

     no longer show the right time.


          The whirling snow is sucked up by vibrations

          from the diesel engines. The stabilizers


     and our shadows stand in long lines

     with transparent plastic bags in their hands.

     They are smuggling dream stuff.


          Behind us days

          disappear in a wake


     unaffected like a mirror

     from the Bronze Age.