Anni Sumari (b. 1965) has published ten books, mainly poetry. Her first book Matkakertomuksia pimeydestä (Accounts of Travels in the Darkness) appeared in 1986. In 1998 she was awarded Yleisradio’s (the equivalent of the BBC) Tanssiva Karhu (Dancing Bear) Prize. Her poems have been translated to 12 languages. She has also worked as translator, translating Samuel Beckett and Robert Antoni among others.
Am I in a park or on the station yard?
People as trees, trees as people,
benches as benches.
I walk across the leveled anthill of the station yard,
swarming and gapless as a pond’s surface.
Sunk in my thoughts, I kick a moss-covered skull
fallen from a treetop.
Rusty trees rush
up from the sea of rails.
I’m travelling on a train,
images behind the window are like images in a dream.
Rails cross languages and cultures
but even them cannot cross cultural differences:
rail gauge varies, and then
we have to change trains.
The landscape is squeezed out of a tube
in front of the train windows,
the train is short but the landscape long.
”Dear friends, we have been gathered together…”
Landscape shortens distances,
art can shorten distances,
train shortens distances.
Through the train window I see:
the dead lying on the beach,
It is easier to face
sudden madness in art
than on the beach.
A shadow is squeezed out of the landscape tube, it predicts:
”Sooner than you think
you will be in the loony bin with me.
Surrealisms and cubisms, the amusements of healthy people,
are starting to terrify you,
you will no longer take pleasure in art.
Fiction pierces the world whose inexplicability
it explicated. You will find a new explanation with me
from where the two of us will be alone”.
I’m not going to stay
alone with the shadow. The train halts for a moment,
the yellow lamp fezzes
are clinking softly, about to light up in full splendor,
about to shatter in the cold air.
The lamps illuminate caches,
spotlights focus on secrets.
Treasures: The absolutes, the trilobites
and the sinerians.
An unintended, unregistered tear
leaves the body, finds form
and rolls towards gravity.
A wrought-iron bench
is billowing on the stop.
I discern the annual rings at the end of the plank,
in a flash, the direction of growth:
outward from the center
like the notation of a primal sound.
The moon oozes with honey,
sees through the train,
stains the sleeping faces.
The dead in the sleepers
are afraid of shadows.
I’m dreaming that
I’m shot on the train.
I change seats
and come to inform you
that I am dead.
You don’t believe me.
The peppermint-striped train is rippling
on the surface of a chunk of water.
Waves are rising, driven ashore
as if they had never been away.
Nonchalantly they sail onshore
as if the shore didn’t exist.
The water moves like a treetop.
Scale-flanks are growling in the depths,
unconscious, fallen birds.
Right now, my attentiveness is floating
just on the water’s surface.
Everything unessential would
be waste of such a sensitive perception,
that focused telescope,
cut so precisely, tuned so far.
A net so
loosely meshed. A haul
Could such a sensitive perception
be used profitably, for the benefit
of friends, good people?
No, it cannot be used, it
cannot be used for anything.
In the morning, as the train stops,
it is easy to walk on the beach,
on the sandless beach.
The long-backed beast of water
ranges from island to island.
In the vertebrae of the water’s spine
a carefree boat is swinging around,
the oars’ hard arms are stroking
the water’s lateral line.
Passengers meet on the beach
wrapped in towels,
the beach unrolls a red carpet
People are lying on the beach
belly to belly
speaking the simplest language.
Landscape brings people closerFrom Sineriaani, 2000. Translated by Sarka Hantula. Published in filling Station, Issue 18, 2000 (Canada).
art brings people closer
train brings people closer.
Too true to be good,
there is no other destination,
a celestial being is drooling uncontrollably,
sweet liquid running over us.
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- The Survivor
- An Invented History of a Sea Battle
- Wassily, through the Dangers