Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Birth Cert.

by Catharina Gripenberg (b. 1977, Jakobstad, Finland), from the collection Ödemjuka belles lettres från en till en (Humble Belles Lettres from One to One), Schildts, 2002.

I stepped in through the door when my father was three years old.
and sat at the kitchen table fastening a pinecone to a ball of yarn.
When father stepped out through the door, I took hold of the cone
and hung there on the end of the yarn that remained in my father’s hand.

Father hurried out along the road. I rattled forward in the gravel.
On the field father’s brothers stood gazing up at the sky
where a fighter plane flew lower and lower
and made an emergency landing on the field where father’s brothers got excited.
Father vanished into the oats and fingered one of the struts.
The pilots stepped onto the field and looked up at the house.
That’s where we live! shouted father’s brothers.
Horizon line instrument, I thought at the landing wheel.

The pilots stepped in through the door and settled down in the drawing room
and were called conductors.
Father and I sat in the kitchen with the ball of yarn and the pine cone.
There was pointing at the clouds and at discs on the pilots’ uniforms.
With a teaspoon one pilot illustrated their emergency landing on the field.

In the evening the pilots smoked and drew sketches outside in the gravel.
Father and his brothers breathed at the window and held their pinecones tightly.
At night the pilots went roaring aloft
on the double sheet next to the dresser.

Father slept in a small double bed with the ball of yarn in his hand.
My mother’s side still was empty.
I told father bedtime stories about companies until he closed his eyes
and we dreamt that the pilots’ broken airplane started.
That we mended it with wood from a pinecone.

The neighbouring houses searched about in their engine hatches .
Small steps arose in the field. As the plane was assembled back together.
And the pilots kissed cheeks and foreheads. When the pinecones and the sky
were ready for takeoff. And the pilots sat in the drawing room
and raised their teaspoons to the ceiling and illustrated their departure.
But father showed them us running a lap round the house
and me ploughing through the grass. Father’s brothers stood in the field,
for a while they were hidden in a cloud of smoke,
but soon we saw them gazing up at the heavens
where the pilots were growing smaller and smaller and waving
with their black airmen’s gloves like little notes in the sky.

[my tr] See also Ghost Train

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