Wednesday, 10 September 2008

bo carpelan

'The old man asked...'

The old man asked: 'Are the oaks still there?
There were forests in my time. Are they still there?'
He was sitting in a mini-house in Monterey,
no longer remembered Swedish, spoke a few words of Russian.
He sat there like his own shadow, watching,
with unseeing eyes the scorched garden -
the surge of sea scarcely reached here, brought no coolness.
'They used to dance, the farm-lads, of a Saturday.'
He cleared his throat, his hands were restless.
'Bagpipes? or something like that, don't remember
the trees, I remember them, the huge oaks, the forests,
it's as if they could still give us coolness - '
He looked at me with an almost furious glance
as if he suspected the truth. I replied as he wanted:
'They're still there, it's good to rest beneath them.'
There was a pause. Then, already far away, he said:
'When the wind moves through an oak forest, you remember that always.'

trans robert fulton

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