<cite>The Great Silence by Siriusí Nose</cite> In her poetry, Ingela Strandberg relentlessly pursues memories of the past, memories which intrigue and fascinate the reader. Scott Minar, American poet and critic, has in private correspondence characterised Ingela Strandberg as ‘a fusion of Sylvia Plath and Elisabeth Bishop, but with a Swedish sensibility transported half a century forward’.


The collection Den Stora Tystnaden vid Sirius nos will be published by Norstedts förlag in the autumn of 2013.

The first few poems in this anthology are published in parallel Swedish and English texts in SBR 2013:1. This website version of the feature presents the full English version of the anthology with the permission of the poet and the translator.

Two poems from this collection, ‘I dreamt about Sam Shepard last night’ and ‘I stand at the gas station’ (also translated by Göran Malmqvist), not included here, were published in the Fall 2012 issue of Crazyhorse Literary Journal in the USA.

Further translated sections of the suite are due to appear in US journal The Laurel Review in 2013.

Translations from Strandberg’s previous collection We Are All Unspeakable Assemblies of Atoms appeared in SBR 2011:2.


Reality stands in his garden
a man turned pale, an acquaintance of mine,
tattooed, unapproachable
from white powder and sleeplessness.
He wears the whole zodiac round his waist

He believes he is eternity.

He washes off the dead
in the tiny white night frost
on the brook. Then I notice
that one star is missing in Orion.

What’s that to me?
?I live only at a distance.

Water pursues him
through the ground.
He sighs.
Tired of creating the world anew.
Tired of Mankind
who is never satisfied.

While the cosmic sea
hurls its swell against the ground
Light.

Standing out there
in the empty field I listen

to the fissures in the light
as the sun rises.

I enjoy seeing
the thieves coming

home with the night’s damp,
how they stash it into

store-rooms and cellars
how they glide silently over the grass

surrounded by lavender.

In the garden of the tattooed
the swifts keep guard.

From there too comes
the dog that pursues me.

at a distance.

Abandoned dog, let me take care of
the stars in your fur.

I don’t like you.
I don’t like dogs.
I don’t like your tongue.
I don’t like the parasites
under your skin. Your smell nauseates me.
I don’t like your gratitude.

Lay your head beside the door.        
Watch over me.

The space in you. I name
your scars by the planets.                
By the tail, where you were beaten
Mercury shines in the dawn. I begin to               
think you are beautiful. Just as my poems
are most beautiful in the bloody graphite
of dawn. Dawn is a slut getting off
by the sea, you know that.
You can see traces of blood everywhere      

Ah, I would like to take you to
the southern hemisphere to see
The flying fish by the ship Argo,

there, between your eyes and the ship’s keel your glance
of all cosmic din, that called silence.
         

Now, at the nape of the neck,          
the discreet leash of the Midsummer moon
hanging in the garden.

 


 

The courtyard is stretched out

by a movement I cannot see.
It is so quiet
I can hear
the future’s wheels roll
onto the gravel.
 

The dog comes everyday now
and lies down over my love.
When I say love
I mean sorrow.

Her name is Stella.
Vulgar like a dance band groupie.

The name makes my eyes smart
when the sun finds its way into the metal
round her neck.

Every twilight
she leaves the tattooed’s
zodiac and steals
my image.
 

We join together for a while.
At night it is the stars
and by day the magpies
that care for us and
shove us out into reality.

But we both have a feeling of
being traced or perhaps
we are nothing but memos.
 

We practice every day
being supported, fed.

If we get to the highway
we walk as neatly as we can.
And raise a sexually
troubling bark.

At times something goes through
us. Smoldering.
As if we were an ice-cold unheated room.
 

I don’t belong here.


That is a comfort
and perhaps also the only
freedom.
 

And as a token
this dog, what was decided
one night above the white heads of the phlox
and the shapes that
listened from the firewood.
 

The moaning of the weathercock.
No wind.
 

Stands in its iron
step so high that he can see
as far as the flock of houses
beneath the mountain.
 

where the Saturdays crowd
together like domestic cattle

between the trampolines.
 

The tattooed drives
the hearse through the village.

Someone has to do it, hidden
among all axes and constellations
in the skin and in Hell.

 


 

The car kisses us from a distance.
The corpses splashing over the bumps.

Just now they stood up,
lured by a caress.
 

The moon rises eclipsed.
I count your sighs

when you sleep, surfaces,
surfaces of unknown lakes.

Through the wide-opened window
I hear as clearly as ever

the unusual caesura of a
tree that falls by itself.
 

Today I saw from a distance            
the tattooed man fetch the night’s mail.    
With sunshine he opened the buds of the  
Angel’s Blush in the chaotic garden.

In each corner a rolled?up
measuring?tape of time. We lie
in each of them and each on our own.
                  
A few narrow arcseconds separate
me and the tattooed man.
But about that he knows nothing yet.
We share a dog.
                            
It’s called the tenderness of nothingness.
 

I see someone running in you
while you sleep.
A younger stronger dog
runs in you while you sleep.
Slips under the fence,
makes his getaway.

 

 

When you run you blast
lake and stones from the farmers’ eyes.

They shiver as if from moonlight.

Just keep them awake. Make them worry.
You can run just
as far as you want.
 

Hard summer                
without twilight. Reminds me of
weddings and I’m forced to consider         
that words matter now
and not meat. Wild chervil flows     
like froth from the ditches.               
I swing in the thread through it all.            
Weightless. Measureless. Free.                  

Bitten to shreds, I’m a dog
for dogs, I detect that I
myself can change the direction of the thread
and enter into new air, breathe
new minerals, be absorbed and merge with them.         
I can name all light.
Quite unhindered work out The Great Number.
See time with its heavy load move
in another direction.

Room after room only
window?shades bulging                   
inwards, outwards and behind them
light’s ashes.
 

Do you hear?

It’s the star bailiffs
clumping about in the entryway.
They have come to complain.
They think it’s base
that such a one as me, who fumbles
with the sun, should call for a star.
I know.

 

 

You are attracted by them,
attracted by the light under the door.
Just like me.

I bribe them with darkness
until they leave.
 

I stand on knees
by the water next to Narcissus.
He spills his lust
like milk in the pond.

We both of us cry
because he loves
the inaccessible water-
youth so much.
 

For us bitches
summer is an act of separation.
We are mothers no longer.               
Nor sisters.
Not even whores.
Abandoned, orphaned            
we howl at the moonlight
sticking to the walls of the outhouse.
The gleam moves so slowly             
that I imagine it conceals a still larger light.        
There is a kind of pausation about it.       
It won’t abide wondering                 
It says: Go ask the runaways.

And we make our way
to the silken-smooth hide?out,                            
the dawn water’s gathering place.    
There I find my childhood’s pale?
yellow shorts. Strangely they fit me perfectly.    
Now I’m a child.
Nothing but a child.

I can play dead
for hours.

 

 

Would you like that?

In the meantime I leave
innermost those whom I love,
love bloodily.

Tamed and shamed
because I love also
my loneliness and what
happens in it,

that dog.
 

We wait for you, the tattooed by his road
and I by mine.
In a distance we hear the timber trucks
lap up the white lines.

We drown in melancholy.

We let you be missed between us.
You’ll soon die anyway, soon
not even be a bitch
anymore -

not even a bitch anymore, the next
greatest silence.
 

You run
straight through me

with fire in your mouth.

I rush into the sun
to save the most important

but the most important has
already fled into the future.
 

Now
everything stands still.
Everything holding its breath in a kind of
preparation.

 

 

That’s where I’m heading.

The bubbles foam
over the world’s surface.

Above the courtyard
shapes that dissolve

and I delivered
in a packet of light perhaps

delivered but,
dead calm breathing,
 

When did I begin
to like Händel?

Today.
Cold iron in some bells
from the radio and the animal
in me fell silent-

I did not follow
the scent for the hunters.

When the clang had died out
I continued to be
a human being,
 

Let’s deteriorate singing.

I continue to
make love to the night
while the days look on.

You continue
with the mongrel’s obvious
posture to drink the street?
lamps’ loneliness to the bottom.

Someone understands.
Someone gets frightened.

 

 

What’s that to us?
We who keep watch
by the corpses’ gate.
 

The pain
over the ridges of the furrows
The shrill cries of the geese.
The brimful ditches
vomiting moonlight.

Here nothing can stand being beautiful.
Beauty is for the one
who cannot defend herself.

I study my body
in two mirrors. I stand
amid the cone of light’s measurements.

It is autumn in the land of the four-wheelers.
 

A bottom calls to
the nine cows under the ice.

We stand looking at the sinking.

How grey light trails
after them down the hole.
Running wild
they accompany each other on
the great blue milk’s
new lake limitless.

There’s nothing we can do.

They sail past each other
on their back amid the rags of the ice
and our terror mixes with theirs
in their throats and in the water polished onyx
of their eyes.

The white horse’s
errant spirit
over the dark field.

 

 

The satellites’ sail.
The swans’ winter.

The moon
a chip of white
china that I
found at an excavation.

The wind
sends word of a slaughtered
sheep and an ice-cold sea,

Both strung up
in dawn’s doorway.
 

In the sign of The Fishes
where I was born.
A desolate region.
A large bog with a thousand
dead animals in
the bottom water.
All with their heads still on.
 

The knife of the new moon
that loves me from the height
and that at any moment
may fall down
and cut my throat.
 

There are nights
when you start barking
at the tiniest little movement that I cannot see.

A crack
in a chair.
An explosion in a
glass. Gravel that falls
from space.
The restless ice
in the brooks or my
impatient heartbeats
at the hotel of my birth.

 


 

At night
someone plays the drums
in the old henhouse.

Darkness is stiff.

Even darkness is gone by.

The unhinged door
leans against materiality.
 

I recall a past peace.
Unexpected, unpredictable.

There was snow on it.

We drank coffee
in the large room.
I brought a bunch of
twigs with coloured feathers.
A warpship
loaded with the past
drew near.

She slackened the leash.

She said: “Dad is waiting
in the empty rooms.”

And so the moon rose
in the same place I was born. I believe
it was there somewhere
she turned and said goodbye.

I recall a past peace.
Unexpected, unpredictable.

There was snow on it.

We went on board.
 

When I come in
I shake the space out of my clothes

so that the snake who lives
in my homecoming will not be disturbed
by the hot blue stars.
 

The stars too are dogs.
Watchdogs strolling in space
sniffing about in each other’s tracks
hunting for a glade to die in.                      

Like the dead, the star?dogs
continue to visit us
lying in the cradles of spruce-tops.  
Or workable in the mountains’ inland sea.
 

When the stones hit
your belly it sounds like drumbeats.

If the skin splits
in the bottomless
water games between
swamps. If we are defeated.

Or if you are carried away
forever within me.

I feel no sympathy with you.
I only make room for you.
 

You walk
in your four-footed trance
while I collect the photons
under my sweater.

It’s getting light.
 

Every mating
was the first.

Something came rushing
from outside and merged the nights
with the body.

Once
tied with reins
split open by sun
by a sparkling now
you bit
you chew yourself free dug
yourself out heard the shouts
of the four cardinal points felt
the wind’s tongue lick you speedy and beautiful.

And then.

The present.
So inaccessible in the intoxicated
edge of the wood. So immature.

Oblivion.

 

You shiver under the blanket.
Don’t be afraid,
We’ll just take off from the plane
surface, I shall take you away from here steal you
if need be, away from all decisions?

 

I lift you into the car. Your body
folds like a sheet of paper.
Everything bony creaks.                            

Death burns us from a distance.
We have to get away.

We stop by a drunk-up tarn in the wood. 
We are real a whole hour.
 

 
The city night
worries within us.

I phone the apple trees, the sad
three that miss me. They don’t answer.

I phone the marble rooms of
the birches but get no answer.

I phone the last flake of ice
in the river but it doesn’t remember me,

I phone the fragile
most beautiful summers but they live
somewhere else now.

I phone the irrevocable.

The irrevocable
always answers.
 

Your glance. The sun in the lacquer
down the road, the gravel where we walked
and that squirms under the wheels, under the skirt.     
The tattooed man who carries your glance away
from me. Your glance, dog.

I have seen it before.
As a child, left standing
in the courtyard, left standing in the gravel’s
differing voices while the engines whimper
left bleeding into the ground.
                  
Your glance: “And now?”

“The Great Silence by Sirius’s nose.”        

“And then?”

“Iron and gold, dog.
Iron and gold.
And a hellish solitude.”