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Poetry From the October 2011 issue: Writing from Iceland
Two middle-aged women, who do the paper-route, drag the cart beside them
along the ice-covered sidewalk, silent beneath the hoods of their anoraks. They remind me of passengers hauling their luggage, looking for the exit in a gigantic, deserted airport. Aside from the creaking of the cart, nothing can be heard except the droning of the air-conditioning system at St. Joseph’s Hospital, or perhaps they’re kindling the ovens at the crematorium. It’s been busy since the long-term wards increased in number. I live in an ash-gray house the look of which calls to mind a ship. On cold nights like this, it is as if the house is stuck in ice. One cannot see through the windows for frost. The sailing in this house is always slow. I sail away. Do the paper-route women wonder who these names on the door belong to, what faces are hidden behind the letter boxes? Seventy subscribers to hundred-page papers live here; seven thousand pages of small type and grainy photographs that two queens of the dawn haul around no-man’s-land before first light. These four frail wheels bear many words. And the responsibility is so great that they pretend not to notice anything as I trudge across their path, climb the bridge and order the dead deckhands to cast off. In the bowels of the ship stories are tossed around that no daily paper knows how to tell and no anorak-clad women have the strength to pull around the streets that steal their names from the darkest sea.
"Fjögur veikburða hjól" © Sindri Freysson. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Martin Regal. All rights reserved.
Tvær miðaldra konur sem bera út morgunblöðin draga kerrur sínar samsíða eftir ísilagðri götunni, þögular undir úlpuhettunum. Þær minna mig á flugfarþegar með töskuvagna í eftirdragi, leitandi að útgönguleið í risastórri, yfirgefinni flugstöð. Fyrir utan marrið í kerruhjólunum heyrist ekkert nema skellirnir í lofttúðunni á Landakotsspítala, eða kannski er verið að hita upp líkbrennsluofninn. Það hefur verið annríki síðan langlegudeildunum var fjölgað. Ég bý í öskugráu húsi sem kallar fram mynd af skipi. Á köldum nóttum sem þessum er það einsog fast í ís, því ekkert sést út fyrir hrími. Ég er alltaf á hægfara siglingu í þessu húsi. Ég sigli burt. Ætli blaðburðakonurnar velti því einhvern tímann fyrir sér hverjir beri þessi nöfn á dyrabjöllunum, hvaða andlit leynist bakvið bréfalúgurnar? Hérna eiga heima sjötíu áskrifendur að hundrað síðna blaði; sjö þúsund síður af smáu letri og kornóttum myndum sem tvær árrisular drottningar teyma um einskismannsland fyrir dögun. Það eru mörg orð á fjórum veikburða hjólum. Og ábyrgðin er svo mikil að þær þykjast ekki taka eftir neinu þegar ég þramma yfir ófarinn veg þeirra, klíf landganginn og gef dauðum hásetunum skipun um að leysa festar. Í iðrum skipsins velkjast sögur sem ekkert dagblað kann að segja og engar úlpukonur hafa afl til að draga um götur sem stela nöfnum sínum frá dekksta sjónum.
Sindri FreyssonSindri Freysson
Sindri Freysson (Reykjavik, 1970) studied philosophy and comparative literature at the University of Iceland before starting a career as a journalist. He began writing at an early age and was still only a teenager when his first works were printed in literary magazines. His first book, a collection of poems, was published in 1992. His first novel, Augun í bænum (The Town has Many Eyes), received the Halldór Laxness Literature Prize in 1998, and his second book of poetry, Harði kjarninn (The Hard Core), was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize in 1999. He received the 2011 Reykjavík City Poetry Prize (the Tómas Gudmundsson Literature Prize) for Í klóm dalalæðunnar (Prisoner of the Ground Mist). His other books include the novels Flóttinn (The Escape, 2004) and Dóttir mæðra minna (Daughter of My Mothers, 2009) and two books of poetry, Words, Murders and Images (2006) and Ljóðveldið Ísland (2009). and will publish a new novel in 2012. Sindri lives in Reykjavik.
Translated from IcelandicIcelandic by Martin RegalMartin Regal
Martin Regal lives in Reykjavik and has been teaching at the University of Iceland for over thirty years. He specializes in drama and is currently completing the volume on tragedy for the Routledge New Critical Idiom series. His translations of Gisli‘s Saga and the Saga of the Sworn Brothers have appeared in Penguin editions. His latest translation project is a book-length selection of poems by Sigurður Pálsson.
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