The nuthatch drew a line in the air

by Pär Hansson

The nuthatch drew a line in the air

A fly wakes me

with its tickling

my back is not infinite

dad is chopping

wood in the light of our courtyard

a nuthatch flies

over his shoulder

on the chopping block

twisted time

can be turned

he raises the ax, clouds are reflected

and the wood morphs

into plastic trumpets

bright voices of angels

give this morning’s orders

Down to the basement

there’s something I’ll pick up there  

in the coolness

though I see nothing

I find my way             

now I see


now I’m in the darkness                   

the chipboard shelf is a landscape

buckled by moisture                    

beetroots, mold

like frost

jam jars with glass lids

and wire clamps                                                         

rubber rings, lingon           

lingonberry jam, lingon, lingonberry jam

I lift a jar, feeling

its weight

the jar is warm

new labels pasted over

the old ones

too dark to read

too bright

to resist

Letters, years

it seems unbelievable, impossible


though they’ve been here for months

oat, porridge oats

the board is a plain with people

wrapped in blankets and quilted jackets

they’re on their way

they carry their babies

pulling carts with tools, rakes, shovels

hammers, chisels

children are carring their siblings

and cloth bundles  

with electronic debris

circuit board glitter, copper wire

someone falls behind      

is gathered in

someone stumbles

is embraced

the moon roars

like a vacuum

copper wire glitters

Now there’s a ringing in the cloth it rings

in the debris

just like a queue and no one answers

these people

what do they want from me

what is it

I don’t understand

the day dawns

like a vacuum

now they’re falling

behind one by one

those who are not lifted up

are eaten

by dogs

when I turn on the light

all movement stops

the jam becomes jam and the jars

become jars

large, small with lids, clamps

When I turn off the light

the jam becomes black

not a shine

in the glass

not even a cry for help

carts, clothes, belongings

are left behind

you carry your own weight

you carry each others


porridge oats, oat

porridge oats

they’re headed this way

so I turn on the light again

I turn it on and off

on and off

Further ahead the seed potatoes sprout

in black boxes

the upturned threads

build a lantern

the potatoes think

try to talk

the potatoes want to say

unbelievable, impossible

everything’s organic

everything’s artificial

all the goods

materials, human thoughts

intelligent and stupid

it all runs

over the surface, nothing

is only on the inside

they’re headed this way, I have

to hide

When I get up the stairs

finally daylight

the jar in my hand

has cooled

dad’s still there with his ax raised

heaven in the ax

the trumpets

no longer trumpets

wood, clouds

and angels’ voices

now so bright

they can’t be heard

I remember the nuthatch

© Pär Hansson, translated by Susanne Ryan and Pär Hansson