Johanna Venho



She has been sprinkled here and there.
She is dream and water, they
slip through fingers and are
     like only a few things
a condition of life.
          Or she is blood,
          bone pain, meat and potatoes.

Of moments when pieces snap together
there are only a few, once in the streetcar
on a summer’s morning, after a sleepless night --

Those moments die as soon as you grasp them:
the way a lizard’s tail stays on the hot stone
and curls up, shrinks. The lizard is hurting,
          it grows a new one, hides.


(p. 38)

Once again sunk into the pit mouths eyes full of clay
all orifices stopped up
you’re not struggling, one might think you’re dead

but rising up into the air
bright forest wind dries out the clay and blows
open hole by hole the best songs


(p. 39)

What you called happiness'    
     (an invisible, jittery flipper
     in your innards)
was torn from you like an atrophied limb.
A dangling bag of flesh. A useless seed store.

A piercing sky voice. I have not heard
anyone singing such clean
shards like diamonds,
through a vaulted ceiling and painted stars
     the sound of a severed road
     as a flute, open at both ends



N. had left a message on the table:

“No longer do I have
the patience of ancient scribes,
the absoluteness of witches;
it is not hard to choose
between the lie and the pyre.

The fog licks
our eyeballs clean, like an old healer.

As soon as it’s dusk I’ll enter the forest
when the terrain turns smooth.
What’s the use knowing
which root you’ll stumble over.”



(p. 23)

Here is Light, still here and speaking her language, I carry her and she is sheer radiance, I carry her even though I am not a tree and completely rootless, I stand under an aspen and look far into the distance. Let us turn somersaults, leave the mean ones in their dirty waters. Birds with wings mired in mud, even if Light pities them. I turn away from them, turn away, it is getting lighter over there! The light grows wider, disperses, penetrates. It germinates, pushes, opens up. One night ball lightning pierces the darkness, in the city streets grown ever harder, I carry Light one step at a time. No one lives that way in this world, except if one does, one does not talk about it.

Translated by Anselm Hollo