by Edith Sodergran, 1892-1923. Translated from the Swedish by Stina Katchadourian.
My soul was a light blue dress the color of the sky;
I left it on a rock by the sea
and naked I came to you, looking like a woman.
And like a woman I sat at your table
and drank a toast in wine, inhaling the scent of some roses.
You found me beautiful, like something you saw in a dream,
I forgot everything, I forgot my childhood and my homeland,
I only knew that your caresses held me captive.
And smiling you held up a mirror and asked me to look.
I saw that my shoulders were made of dust and crumbled away,
I saw that my beauty was sick and wished only to--disappear.
Oh, hold me tight in your arms so close that I need nothing.
I saw a tree...
I saw a tree that was taller than all the rest
and laden with pine cones out of reach;
I saw a great church with open doors
and all who came out were pale and strong
and ready to die;
I saw a woman, smiling and painted,
throw dice for her fortune,
and I saw that she lost.
A circle was drawn around these things,
which no one can cross.