Markku Paasonen (Finland)

Translated by Anselm Hollo

Mother Sewer

The clouds dragged their eyelids, shed salt-free tears, clouds with cataracts, I lay in their moisture, I lay in the suppurating half-dark of the streets and waited, wrapped the moisture tightly around me and started talking to the sewer lid that was the only warm spot in that chilly space. Mother Sewer, I proclaimed, I shall lift aside the heavy cast-iron lid in order to descend into your realm. I shall wade into your lap, dive into your flowing flesh, abandoning friends and relations, I'll take along everything I can manage to pry loose, I'll give it all to you, Mother Sewer, and you shall receive it all, and donate it all to the sea. To you, nothing is filthy, to you, nothing is evil. Your vault is full of dripping nocturnal sunlight and the chemistry of rejected matter. You allow everything to flow through your body to be born anew. Thus did I chant to the benefactress who crawled along under the streets, my lungs yearning for her generous breath suffused with a pregnancy of decay, and blessed a creature who had never looked for profit.


Freeing the Sea

The sea is flesh swelling between shores, rising between rocks, between its folds one sees glimpses of lips and apertures, sucking and excreting. All of a sudden, the shore is covered in abandoned mussel shells. Death is so quick today. In the distance, one can discern a small sail. The sea turns over, and the sail sinks, the wind raises a surge over it. Such are the indolent days spent on the shore. But today there is something exceptional in the air. Could it be speech? Could it be that the sea has learned how to excrete out of the apertures of its body such a most noble substance, a connective tissue consisting of words, that causes rocks and seagulls to remain in their appropriate spots of the circle of life? The sea's speech perturbs me. It wants change. Oh, observer, it says. Take a needle and thread and sew my nostrils shut because the air moving in them disturbs me. After you have sewn my nostrils shut, sew my ears, too, to prevent exterior sounds from mingling with my interior ones. Sew my navel, too, because I want to be rid of an indication that I have ingested nourishment once upon a time. The very thought disgusts me. Don't forget to sew my lips with a double thread: I do not want anything to move in or out through that repulsive aperture. Seal my teats with quick-drying glue, to release me from the task of perennial nursing. Bend down between my legs, pick a strong curved needle, the kind a cobbler uses to sew on soles, string it with steel wire and sew my buttocks together from top to bottom. Use the same wire to sew shot my labia so that I shall be unable to experience any pleasure except for the one of being bound. Pour pore-clogging paint over me, black, non-reflective of light. Use that paint also to cover up the sky and the rocks on the shore until nothing can be seen: only a black painting on a black ground. Horrified, I listen to the sea's speech. No, I tell it. I don't want any part of such imbecile action! To emphasise my words I grab its folds with both hands. I tear at the apertures, pierce the membranes, peel the skin and let loose the sea monsters and sirens, the cachalots and Flying Dutchmen, until it is sheer flow, a torrent foaming between the rocks, punctuated by islets of flesh. Stubborn islets! They, too, must be removed out of the way of the sea's turquoise liberation.