Jyrki Kiiskinen (Finland)

Translated by Anselm Hollo

[The man in charge . . . ]

The man in charge of throwing water on the sauna stones runs a fingernail across his temporal fossa, that's where death passed him by in the war. One no longer hear such tales. My son does not see missing legs, tissues torn by shrapnel. bones shattered by a bullet. He does not know about men who crawl out of frozen stacks of corpses into the sauna at the public baths. He ogles cleanly drawn calves, foamy corpulent rococo figures in the shower. I hear the booming in the washing-up room, from a distance within reach of artillery, that's where young men engaged in the long continuation war, threw water on the heated stones, ever more water on the heated stones. The devil breathed ice, walked past close by. Where does he wash up now? How does he dress before he goes out on the town?


[A row of coats . . . ]

 A row of coats hangs behind a curtain my hand wanders blindly
 into overcoat pockets looks for chewed pencils and paper clips
 finds a purse bad hand it loves weights
 thus is attached to coins even though it knows that power does not weigh much
 the hand labours in a precisely weighed relation
 to the wallet's contents and the owner does not notice
 anything bronze nickel
 purple bank note mountains rustle between hands
 the hand examines candy boxes shoes and love letters
 it scans bank records chests of drawers and panties
 vases and sink pipes penetrates the depths of closets
 struggles underneath rubber bands spreads out anatomical charts
 rolled up solar systems that caused people to be burned sometimes
 finally it finds the illustrated magazine under a pile promising colour pictures
 the hand turns pages hoping for breasts and thighs
 but freezes in the middle of the page-turning sequence of images
 of a village road burning buildings soggy fields
 entangled bodies sprinters surprised by mud immobile
 pigs and children on the wayside guts like streamers
 at birthday celebrations women in the pictures elastic bronze
 artful flesh arrangements of thighs and breasts
 rotten fruit by the wayside hands
 clutching temples holding a baby
 exuberant buttocks protect the child from bullets the child
 riddled by bullets in whose body blood blooms like on the field
 the waste water rolls like a wave onto the mouth behind the teeth
 the mass murder's witness gazes at his deepest interior
 one match after another lit between shaky fingers
 I don't shut my mouth or mass grave I don't fear the curse
 I do not drip blood soup onto the clinkers my face does not flow
 off my head with the red gunk I am not a victim I won't remain silent
 I don't flee to the neighbour do not wait for a chance to avenge I am a free hand
 moving on across years fumbling in the dark to find
 what it looks for stroking the belly the hair the mouth that whimpers