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four creaking wheels

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.