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Poetry

Fragments from the Guidebook of the Dead

By Gyrðir Elíasson
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
There will come a time when / the planet will have had enough

Fragments from the Guidebook
of the Dead

                        First daytrip/ Kolafjöll

No lemonwood grows here,
but those interested should note
a pale moonwort inching its way
from under the lava rock

On the Sunny Side

There are planets that have
two suns and black
plants—

even though there are two suns
and the plants are the color of night

there are no wars

here, there is only one sun and the plants
are green,
but still, there is never peace

on a planet where there are two
suns, little white horses run
through forest plants

here, where there is only one sun,
and it is irreplaceable,
tanks cut across
all the forests

Purification

There will come a time when
the planet will have had enough,
and suddenly jerk
out of its ultrafast rotation
and dash all 7 billion
and their belongings into dark
space, just like
an animal shaking off its restlessness.
Then, leisurely, it will begin anew
to collect up
life

English

Fragments from the Guidebook
of the Dead

                        First daytrip/ Kolafjöll

No lemonwood grows here,
but those interested should note
a pale moonwort inching its way
from under the lava rock

On the Sunny Side

There are planets that have
two suns and black
plants—

even though there are two suns
and the plants are the color of night

there are no wars

here, there is only one sun and the plants
are green,
but still, there is never peace

on a planet where there are two
suns, little white horses run
through forest plants

here, where there is only one sun,
and it is irreplaceable,
tanks cut across
all the forests

Purification

There will come a time when
the planet will have had enough,
and suddenly jerk
out of its ultrafast rotation
and dash all 7 billion
and their belongings into dark
space, just like
an animal shaking off its restlessness.
Then, leisurely, it will begin anew
to collect up
life

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