boundary 2 29.1 (2002) 57-61

The Children That Float
from Helgonlegenderna: väv, 2000

Lars Mikael Raattamaa

The children that float
in Lake M”laren in springtime
have often lain there since last fall
Wedged between a couple of rocks or
inserted into a rotten tree trunk
they can be discerned in the light of algae
At M”larh–jden Beach one can sometimes see small fish
and bleaks swim in cavities
At sunrise in a crease
a may fly or a tadpole may be hatched

Their whole lives
they have dreamt themselves here and there [End Page 57]
Revetment children they are called
They do not shed their skin but
do often trade extremities with
each other

One can hear them
call in the night
Everybody Hi!
Loud, so that the windows rattle
and when fumes of benzene sweep through floor after floor
and when the walls are being sketched
when the hungry houses chew children that
love houses
and the moon
— what, the moon?

But now it is time for new songs
a word on the page, a name:
Beograd, Tiramisù, Tatraplan like names of animals; and other
rational adjectives
In a basement in Örnsberg
open contests for A-kids
are held again, as is customary
in the spirit of amateurism
And those who nevertheless float,
yes, what shall we call them?

A blue Volvo
enters the turning area
Hesitantly at first
But soon it turns and drives away quickly
It tows an empty trailer

Light-money by night

Help them to forget
Help them
to repress the stone-dances
They're not invited voluntarily

Help them
to sink deep down into the [End Page 58]
only there
can they be purified
into the proper nutritional value
that the light demands

(But put on your shoes and
let's walk out on that cliff and watch
the little ocean where cities
rise in the morning
after good night's play
Are you hungry? There is fruit
There is food and drink
You want some?
And soon there is a wet city in front of
your red knees)

Up by the tunnel-ravine the car
stops and turns out the lights, if you
sneak up by the window you can
see a small girl
sleeping beneath a leopard-striped blanket

Now, the surface of Lake M”laren sizzles in the docks of H”gersten
the rocks, the wooden sun, the burst-light
The night is killed as usual and
the children that float will be
picked up by the morning police and be
tucked softly into the oblivion of fathers
Buses drive up to the tower blocks;
it creaks in a boat;
one who runs
blue and red
passes on
the wooden jetty, along the rocks
The yellowbirds
The brownbirds and the blackbirds
The catbirds, the aspenbirds and the swedenbirds
and the birds that turned on the light
wander and grumble [End Page 59]
mumble and tremble
Suncold waters washes us with
beach-muck and weed

But those that neither float
nor sink
they have nothing to forget
Orbitally inclined and light
and lucky they glide within themselves
Come sit down here on
the cliff next to me
and we start the counting: one; two; three;
four; five; six
(It isn't more difficult than that)
seven-wins; eight-wins
(You try)
niney; tenny
Unload the goods you brought all
the way out here on the point
Pile up prime numbers and wonderful
infinitudes on the edge of the cliff where
you sit right now
(And then quietly to yourself, don't
let anything interrupt the numerical river
of truth) Out on Lake M”laren the boat tows
a barge with sand, not too long ago
log rafts were floating here, now
commercial traffic is not so common
You are still counting, right?
(A dog runs and barks
in the woods, you want it?
The blue and the red are running, up hill
and down dale, in the strangely
sandy woods Past the green wooden shed
around the little bay
and out on the next point You want the shed?
You want oceans? There are oceans
There are lakes and there are cities
You want them?
You want a car? There are cars [End Page 60]
You can get them when you run
You want woods? There are woods
You want roads? There are roads
You want a home? There are homes
You want love? There is love)
Now? Are you counting now?
Don't let me interrupt (The light is
already warm)

(Translated from Swedish by Anders Lundberg and Jesper Olsson)