Wednesday, November 11, 2015



We have many shadows. I was on my way home

one September night when Y

climbed out of his grave after forty years

and kept me company.

At first he was completely blank, just a name

but his thoughts swam

faster than time ran

and caught up to us.

I put his eyes into my eyes

and saw the war's sea.

The last boat he commanded

rose up from under us.

Ahead and behind the Atlantic convoy crept,

those who would survive

and those who'd been given The Mark

(invisible to all).

While the sleepless hours relieved each other

but never him —

the life vest snug under his oilskin coat.

He never came home.

It was internal crying that bled him to death

in a Cardiff hospital.

He finally got to lie down

and turn into the horizon.

Farewell eleven-knot convoys! Farewell 1940!

Here's where world history ends.

Bombers hung in the air.

Heather bloomed in the moors.

A photo from early in the century shows a beach.

Six well-dressed boys standing there.

They have sailboats in their arms.

What serious expressions!

The boats that became life and death for some of them.

And to write about the dead

is also a game, made heavy

by what is yet to come.


T O M A S    T R A N S T R O M E R
translated by Patty Crane
Bright Scythe
Sarabande Books 2015