Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, “It Must Happen”

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Tapahduttava on, onnettomuutta ei voi siirtää.
Olen ollut keskellä kauan, syntymästä asti, ja nyt
kivien muodostamaan piiriin ilmestyy tyhjä kohta,
tila mahtua. Ranta murtuu kun käännyn selin.

Äkkiä vaihtoehtoja ei ole, ympyrää enää.
Ensimmäinen askel: heitän hyväilyt, käärin hihat.
Avaan arvet. Toinen askel: järven kalvo repeää.
Menen läpi. Kolmas: syvyys syö sinisen silmän,
kaksi veden väriä, tai taivaan oikeastaan.

Näin lämmintä, ihan sopivaa. Aalto sopii jalkaan,
Tuhkimon kenkä, pirstoutuu rikki. Aika kirkas, kun katso
läpi, kuvaa ei ole, ei heijastusta. Maisema tykyttää
verisuonissa, menetetty. On hetki, jolloin onni päättyy,
palaset putovat, käsistäni kaikki.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

It must happen: an accident cannot be moved.
I have been in the middle for a long while, since birth, and now
an empty spot appears in a circle fashioned from stones,
room to fit. The beach crumbles when I turn my back.

Suddenly, there are no alternatives, no more circle.
First step: I throw caresses, I roll up my sleeves.
I open the scars. Second step: the lake’s membrane ruptures.
I’m going through. Third: the depth consumes the blue eye,
the two colors of water. Or the sky’s, actually.

So warm, quite suitable. The wave fits the foot,
Cinderella’s slipper, smashed to smithereens. Time is bright, when you look
through: there is no image, no reflection. The landscape throbs
in the blood vessels, lost. There is a moment when happiness ends,
the pieces falls, all from my hands.

— Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, Sakset kädessä ei saa juosta (WSOY, 2004), p. 60

Photo and translation by Living in FIN

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, “Our Golden-Brown Heads”

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Meidän kullanruskeat päämme ovat kumartuneet
toisiaan vasten, kynä rapisee hiiren jälkiä, suu avautuu
välillä leijonan kokoiseen haukotukseen, mutta sieraimet
värähtävät valppaasti. Nyt tehdään salaisuuksia. Avaudutaan.
Liittoudutaan. Kuuntelen ekassa pulpetissa Eleanor Rigbya
joka laulaa ikkunalaudalla, jalat eivät mahdu enää
pulpetin alle, katson lasin läpi mustia haavoja
koivujen kyljissä, hiiltyneitä arpia tiukan valon syleilyssä.

Kun tunti loppuu ja sujautamme paperit reppuun,
näen hänen reunamerkintänsä: tähtiä marginaaleissa,
kirkkaita kovia terässiipisiä ikuisia.

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Our golden-brown heads are stooped
towards each other, pencils scratch mouse tracks, mouths open
occasionally into lion-sized yawns, but nostrils
vibrate vigilantly. Secrets are made. They are revealed.
Alliances are formed. At the first desk I listen to Eleanor Rigby
singing in the windowsill. Legs no longer fit
under the desk. I look through glass at black wounds
on the birch sides, charred scars in the taut light’s embraces.

When the lesson ends and we slip our papers into rucksacks,
I see his edge markings: stars in the margins,
bright hard steel-winged everlasting.

— Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, Sakset kädessä ei saa juosta (WSOY, 2004), p. 42.

Photo of former Savikanta School (Imatra, South Karelia) and translation by Living in FIN

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, “The Cloud’s Spines Lie”

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Pilvenrangat makaavat pojan ohimoilla. Suu kiinni nyt.
Sokerisammas kielen päällä hilaan kättä kylkiviivaa pitkin,
jos vähän alemmaksi, se on melkein.

Kainalokarvat kutittavat sukeltajaa ja poika se tutkii tähtiä;
hänen silmänsä ovat sillä tapaa sokeat.
Aamulla vaihdan lakanat, taivaan toiseen.
Tyynyliinaan on jäänyt niskakuoppa.
Vedän sen mankelin läpi suoraksi, silitän vatsaani vasten.

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The cloud’s spines lie on the boy’s temples. Shut up now.
A pillar of sugar on the tongue, I drag a hand along the rib line.
If a bit lower, it is almost.

Armpit hair tickles the diver, and the boy searches the stars.
His eyes thus tend to be blind.
In the morning, I change the bed sheets, to another sky.
The nape has remained on the pillow case.
I pull it straight through the mangle, stroking my stomach against it.

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, Sakset kädessä ei saa juosta (WSOY, 2004), p. 15. Photo of mangle courtesy of Wikipedia.

Translated by Living in FIN

Wave of Mutilation

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People will wander where they will.

This is a snapshot of what bicyclists, pedestrians, and, sometimes, mopedists, do almost every livelong day to the flimsy piece of twine, draped with tiny flags, hung by the members of our co-op’s management board to prevent them from making this shortcut.

Why are the cyclists, peds, and mopeds so hellbent on taking this shortcut?

Because, a few years ago, the city government of Imatra, South Karelia, perhaps the wisest municipal government on Planet Earth, royally messed with the perfectly serviceable and intuitively natural network of footpaths and bike trails in our neighborhood to accommodate a new neighbor, a giant Prisma hypermarket, built exclusively for Russian shopping tourists, who at one point some years ago were surging through Suomi’s southern borders in droves, but since Putin decided to rule the world and tank his country’s economy in the process, have been reduced to a trickle.

In the wake of the hypermarket’s nearly sacred advent in our lives, we residents of Linnala, the Imatra micro-district that had this alien happiness shoved down its throat without much say-so, got all our streets, sidewalks, intersections, parking lots, footpaths, and bike trails “improved.”

In practice, this means they were turned into an impossible pile of spaghetti, in which you continually have to cross streets, car lanes, parking lots, and roundabouts (all of them newly installed at taxpayer’s expense), usually in a counterintuitive zigzag pattern, to go where you used to go much faster and without all the hassle.

This is the level of urban planning in South Karelia. If you don’t believe me, take a trip to the region’s unofficial capital, Lappeenranta, where they have also been rolling out a wave of mutilation to satisfy the itches and urges of Finnish architectural design and construction companies with names like Lemminkäinen, who have also long been in the business of transforming Russia’s second capital, Petersburg, with impossibly large and ugly residential blocks.

Because that is the bottom line: making a fast buck whatever it does to lives that people were perfectly happy with without ever saying so. When you mess with their lives in this way, blazing their old daily trails back onto the mostly invisible maps of their neighborhoods is their way of saying they were happy with the way things were. LIF

Photo by Living in FIN

Arto Lappi, Five Poems

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1

Kuinka puhuttiin —
sadat, tuhannet sanat
ettei yksikään
mieleen jäänyt: hymysi
kaikkien niiden läpi.

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However much we said—
one hundred, one thousand words—
not a single one
sticks in my mind, because your smile
shines through every one of them.

2

Vaikka pöydän ympärillä oli neljä tuolia
mummo antoi istua vain sillä, joka
varoitti narahtaen. Ja samassa pöytä oli täynnä
mehua, keksejä. Ja kilo voita leivän päällä.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Although around the table four chairs had been arranged
Grandma would let me sit only in the one chair
That forewarned her by creaking. The table was chockablock
with juice, biscuits, and a kilo of butter heaped on top of the bread.

3

Juosta varjoaan
kiinni, vihdoin tajuta —
makuulta sen saa
napattua: samalla
saa hiukan aurinkoa.

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Running after your shadow,
trying to catch it, finally realizing:
when you are lying down, it can be
snatched. At the same time,
you get some sun.

4

Jaksan katsella
metsäreunaa, mitään ei
tapahdu. Mittaan
sitten kesän lopulla
vatsanympäryksen.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I manage to go have a look
at the forest’s edge: nothing is
happening. Then I measure
my stomach’s circumference
at summer’s end.

5

Sorsanpoikaset —
emon perässä uivat
hauenkin kitaan.

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Ducklings,
swimming behind their mother,
right into a pike’s maw.

Arto Lappi, Harakan paja: mitallisia runoja (Turku: Sammakko, 2007), pp. 8, 21, 39, 124, 91. The poems were chosen using the True Random Number Generator at random.org.

Photo and translations by Living in FIN

Hannu Salakka, Three Poems

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1

Seinällä kääntyy kellastunut lehti
toukokuusta kesäkuuhun.
Ilmassa on juuri lakanneen musiikin tuntu,
sävelten, jotka ovat jo vaienneet
tai syntyneet saamatta ääntä.

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The yellowed page on the wall turns
from May to June.
There’s a feeling in the air of music stopping,
of tunes going silent
or starting up again without making a sound.

2

Kolea ilta, vanhaa musiikkia.
Värit menevät valon myötä,
vain sävyt jäävät, hämärä,
jossa vihreää melkein mustasta melkein valkoiseen;
maailma vedenalainen,
rajapinta kuultavan taivasta vasten.

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A chilly evening, old music.
The colors fade in the light,
leaving only overtones, dusk,
in which green has gone from almost black to nearly white.
The world is submerged,
the interface translucent against the sky.

3

Yö on vain varjo,
unet ovat toisesta maailmasta
joka meillä vain yksin on.
Näyt syntyvät
painuakseen jälleen unohduksiin niinkuin ne,
jotka elivät täällä ennen.

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Night is a mere shadow,
dreams are from the other world,
which is the only one in our parts.
Visions are born, as it were,
so those who lived here before
descend once more into oblivion.

— Hannu Salakka, Kesä kesältä syvemmin (Otava, 1977), pp. 7–9

Interior view of the Lauritsala Church (Lappeenranta, South Karelia) and translations by Living in FIN