Take a walk through the port city,
Move through the seasons and hope for
The best: the Baltic, the North Sea,
The docklands where you look at
The locals, they don’t look back,
Remember it’s better that way:
After a walk around Delfshaven,
Get forgotten the rest of the day.

In Het Park there’s a festival of
Romantic music, but you can’t shake
The feeling that all that matters is
Who you follow, and so the words
Of Miłosz comment on the trees:

We were many, from Jassy and Koloshvar,
Wilno and Bucharest, Saigon and Marrakesh,
Ashamed to remember the customs of our homes,
About which nobody here should ever be told:

As if anyone from “home” can know
The true east from which you sailed,
As true as the way Miłosz, your
Eldest Krakowian colleague, finishes
His “Bypassing Rue Descartes” in 1980:

And what I have met with in life
Was the just punishment which reaches,
Sooner or later, the breaker of a taboo.

Figure out the electric oven together,
All new things simple songs: see
The orange Trabant across the street
Pull away together, but alone tonight
Watch Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre,
See if that tender embrace of the
Rootless is felt through a screen.


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2 thoughts on “THE FINLAND

  1. sanberdooboy says:

    “The docklands where you look at/ The locals, they don’t look back” presents the reader with so much insight and many questions, which the rest of the poem begins to answer. If I’m not misreading, I can see some hope, both in the last Milosz quote (because of the acknowledgement of guilt) and in the final stanza (even though “oven” brings up horrifying connections).

    • Thanks for the comments! There is indeed hope here, if not just the hope that being around the movement of water can bring. And I assure you, the “electric oven” line is just a reference to being in a new apartment with an electric oven (and stove) that’s a little confusing to use. Cheers.


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