from Aednan [X]

Vass Valley. Fall 1920
(Aslat the dead)

You left me 
on the Swede’s farm

alone and wrapped
in my large kolt


I didn’t stay there


One fall and one winter
we cried together
Then you joined

the herd and
As for me I spread
my kolt into wings
and flew away

blood drained 
from my body and


I couldn’t stay

Where I had fallen
never to rise


Did you feel me Father

blowing across the sea

Didn’t you hear me

Among the sea birds
when you arrived 
with your summer-fattened


I was the lone
strand from the reindeer’s coat
gliding across the surface of the sea

in the bay by
the reindeer’s swimming spot


And the pretty hill
in the fall-summer sun

Where the herd 
had to find its own way
down the rocks

Until thick fog rolled in

And it was
impossible to see
the pitch of the slope


I was the forest 

around the great
forest way
in olden times


Where your lead reindeer
cleaned its horns

Did you feel it Mother
in your hand

that long while you spent
milking the tame cow
who then disappeared
among the trees


To search for lichen
and mushrooms and lick
urine from the ground


I was the weight
in the stone you brought
back from the coast

to place on 
my grave

One stone each summer

you carry home
to the winterland
Nila and you


Mother you caress
that scar on my
brother’s forehead
as though it were a
whisper from me


Because I once
threw a wooden log 
at him

that hit right there

Nila when I fell


You continued
to treat me
the same

as though I
hadn’t changed


The same old
slow smile
while my head quietly
wanted to roll back
into place

deep between my shoulders

Nila did you feel that
I was the movement
under the boat

in the mountain lake where
Mother and you
spread the nets


Did you catch
my gaze
in the eye of the storm


I stood on a branch
my legs were like 
When the wind bent
back the yellowing

I saw strange mountains

with roaring rivers


And I flew over
the boat and called
to you:

There will be rain
there will be rain

Originally published in the March 2019 issue of Words Without Borders. From Aednan © Linnea Axelsson. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Saskia Vogel. All rights reserved.