Solitude (I)

I was nearly killed here, one night in February.

My car shivered, and slewed sideways on the ice,

right across into the other lane. The slur of traffic

came at me with their lights.

My name, my girls, my job, all

slipped free and were left behind, smaller and smaller,

further and further away. I was a nobody:

a boy in a playground, suddenly surrounded.

The headlights of the oncoming cars

bore down on me as I wrestled the wheel through a slick

of terror, clear and slippery as egg-white.

The seconds grew and grew – making more room for me –

stretching huge as hospitals.

I almost felt that I could rest

and take a breath

before the crash.

Then something caught: some helpful sand

or a well-timed gust of wind. The car

snapped out of it, swinging back across the road.

A signpost shot up and cracked, with a sharp clang,

spinning away in the darkness.

And it was still. I sat back in my seat-belt

and watched someone tramp through the whirling snow

to see what was left of me.



A blue light

radiates from my clothing.


Clattering tambourines of ice.

I close my eyes.

There is a silent world

there is a crack

where the dead

are smuggled across the border.



The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.

It is like a prayer to what is empty.

And what is empty turns its face to us

and whispers:

‘I am not empty, I am open.’


National Insecurity

The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X

and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground

so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

A helmet worn by no one has taken power.

The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.



by Tomas Tranströmer