Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three-toed Gull, Sighted Near the Lighthouse of Kullen

I was familiar with the sense of soaring from the music
of Lars-Erik Larsson: he must have seen
the same water surfaces as I, been filled by the same light
along the same curving coastline,
and felt the slowly rising movement of the summer
in an outer world which already was an inner one:
it was as if one stood and looked northwest
where the northern Sound has imperceptibly become the Kattegat
on a day when all the sea is placid and the sky light-blue
and a hazy fog seals the horizon –
the blank shining ground-swell
with a single floating tuft of seaweed
or a bit of plank which heaves, heaves
slowly mirroring itself, while the sea’s
cool and intensely shining mist
rises up in microscopic crystals of salt –
soaring in the air where the Sound opens out
on an unfathomable beyond and a single three-toed gull
which, battered from some afterworld of flight,
comes in view as flying’s sole survivor
gliding inland towards the lighthouse at Kullaberg –
Winddriventhing at rest in the bluest of hazes
or perhaps an optical illusion in the prisms of the lighthouse
open toward monotony of air –
all alone on a summer’s day,
which sees the loss of the horizon,
takes a giddy gyroscopic turn and topples over in memory
without a sense of anything but height and depth
as if shutting its eyes to the infinite
with wings spread wide, rising and sinking and soaring
seems to free itself at last
from the immense and sparkling blue. 

Jesper Svenbro, from Three-Toed Gull: Selected Poems. Translated by John Matthias and Lars-Hakan Svensson. Evanston: Hydra Books/Northwestern University Press, 2003