by Pär Hansson


Death is a transfiguration for families. When a family member departs, a well is

bored, a gap opens which allows the survivors to look one another far more

seriously in the eye. Early one morning you assemble around this deeply bored

well. A pail is attached to a long sturdy rope, the rope to a reel, you take turns

cranking the handle and then let the pail, filled to the brim with water, go around.

You hand over the heavy vessel, look one another in the eye. You drink this cool

clear water by the liter.

This pertains not only to the immediate family in mourning, whose father has

suffered a heart attack while he was out running laps. It also applies to the other

families. Those who stand around in groups in a parking lot, dressed up, waiting

for the bells to toll them into church. The men look at their cars some other way.

They look at their cars with different eyes. The women look into their husbands’

eyes. Their gazes almost coincide. And the children look at the trees, the cars,

their mothers and fathers with entirely new, astonished eyes.

It is when you let a heart that is much too large just run: an internal explosion on

a bicycle path between Vännäs and Vännäsby. A quick death before the body has

even managed to hit the ground. Unable to feel the hardness of the ground one last

time. Dying in the air. To remain hanging, half-finished, amid the thunderous

pealing of the bells. But also the thundering of the bells in itself. The bells’ own

bronze-toned clang tolling the assembled, dressed-up, weeping families inside.

The families that have never been more distinctly gathered. They see one another

very clearly now. They stand clustered into small groups in front of their vehicles.

It is early in the day. Their eyes are newly bored wells. Death is right in their

midst, transfiguring and transfiguring.

© Pär Hansson, translated by Rika Lesser