No one saw him disembark on that unanimous night
balance on a log
down a river
was a daily ritual of the lumberjacks
who hauled wood
in a different time.
So I climbed on a floating log
while you watched me
seated on the bank of the Vantaa river
and between the two of us
an expanse of water opened:
I danced on a sailing tree
and though you didn’t move, you embarked
It was a parallax excursion:
an object’s apparent movement
caused by the change
in position of whoever watches it
causing a union between the parts.
Clinging to the dampness of the wood
I was once again that silent girl
who played hide and seek with the deer.
Did you also hear
the crackle of memories on the log?
Time passed by
and we lost ourselves in the scenery
but I felt you, my love,
still and by my side, floating down the river.
That afternoon you realized that I’m like Finland.
I can only exist
if you imagine me.
In A Changing Room in Naantali
After the sauna
where generations of women
have gone to take off
their boots or panties.
There is a parade
of gazelle-like legs
of wrinkled necks, cellulitis
tattoos of ideograms
The weather is pleasant
and we are lucky
to not be
in an extermination camp.
My shoes wait for me
in their own locker
in an anonymous pile.
the girl with red pubic hair
the old lady with a sorrowful face
the glutes of a young girl
the English woman with her thong and Brazilian Wax
showing even her clitoris
the blonde Finnish woman whose nipples shake
as she combs her bangs.
I look at myself in the mirror on the wall.
I see my accidents, decisions,
the marks of love.
The mole at my navel. The poorly done C-section.
My sternum damaged by the blow
of a leather belt, when I was a girl.
Is it the wandering
of an inaccessible god
that leaves footprints
on our bodies?
Skin tells our story better than words.
But it doesn’t last.
an electric blade
cut off my father’s finger.
They say he picked up his bloody thumb
and tossed it in the garbage,
without a word.
At home he told us it was a clean cut.
Painless. It didn’t even bleed.
He lived in serenity, without two phalanges
but at times things
would slip through his hands
or he would try to grab a bottle
but would just claw at the light.
When he was asked
why he didn’t use his left arm
that it was his way of touching:
to sense the curvature of an object
with his former finger.
Maybe, a blade
deprived me, too, of a thumb.
And that would explain
my attachment to downfalls,
constant need to feel
of what once was real.
Translation to English by a group of students coordinated by Professor Anthony Geist, in a Spanish class at the University of Washington
Photo: Valeria Smirnova, Unsplash.