Twenty-two things not to be trusted:
not night-old ice, not a winter in Skåne
with the ice shining and as yet untrodden
to a confidence inspiring terra firma.
Not winter in Skåne, not spring in Norway
with Easter Lilies rising through the snow’s crust;
never, ever, for Christ’s sake, trust
the blond from the sticks, fresh off the bus,
the bloodied thread in the labyrinth,
or that to every nice girl in a pinch
an angel comes, outfitted like a demon.
Mistrust a bit the empire’s balconies,
they have less of a purchase than the piercing
in the snake’s tongue; consider: the ice
in that drink in India will melt, consider, too,
that the red smiles and eyes as violet-blue
as the firmament above the Soviet Union
in one of Mikael Wiehe’s folk rock tunes
won’t always live up to your expectations.
For the young, these valuable recommendations;
never trust the egg laid by the rooster,
or helpfulness encountered at train stations,
doubt the dentist’s gold, the wolf’s wool
and the assurances of a golden future;
that it’s primarily for your own good
that you’ve been taken in hand, that you can depend
upon your being loved by your enemy.
No, don’t believe for a moment in the imperishable
nature of the shining ice; in the spread
wings of Icarus, in a spider’s thread,
in Christian charity with preconditions,
in politicians–or the children of politicians.
Translator’s note: Sandell’s poem is an improvisation on lines from Hávamál (The Sayings of Hár), a collection of verse proverbs found in the Poetic Edda.