from Dark Matter

Aase Berg

translated by Johannes Göransson

Will haul this body of gelatin, will lash forward this non-form, will push this organism of gas through the gray lands.

In the thin white hair tears a sour wind. A wind of vinegar and henbane tears in the rustling, shed bird-shells that have been abandoned empty and fragile after the throbbing bird boils moved on toward so called life. Now I see the clever needle-trees sling these clumps of heavy pouch-flesh back and forth between themselves: small feather-birds “fly” above my heads.

I haul myself, I haul myself, I haul my dragging structure along the river furrow’s muddy, sloppy, overlapping slopes. I am so bitter, so wet, the mouth is smeared inside with the sweetness of the bit-apart blood-chisel. Out of this blood I am going to suck my nourishment for some time.

I haul I drive my dissolved substance, slowly across the metal of the calm stones, the hovering thread-glue’s suction toward a point in the distant middle of the perspective. Where the river’s beaches will meet and where the thinnest needle of silver of liquid will drill its dark tunnel-water straight into the heart of the dying image, the moist up-loosened surface of paper which we cling onto.

I haul I force I touch myself, touch the skin-rind with chafed-up viscous fingers. The little mermaid formed from ocean foam – that is how I haul my long veils, layers of elastic cartilage, of slippery, shimmering membranes, chlorophyll. The gills shudder and glow deep down in this chasm of tissue – constantly rustling, squeaking, gasping for air. This whirling, howling, desperate lack of oxygen; the scream – if it had had enough oxygen to scream and a mouth with which to scream – the scream for to swallow the entire lung-base full of clear wind.

Lizards play, glitter green, blue and red between the membranes of skin in the body dress. Where does this mass end? I search inward through the layers to find the core of my plasma wet from juices, to find the core of body-flesh despite the outer, surrounding flesh, the naked body’s stable surface, a kind of human here inside the bluing, plant-becoming. A kind of attachment behind the spread of the sickness of mud, fermentation. But there is nothing that resists beneath this mantle of slippery webbed skin, broken through by a pounding vein net.

Now I lick my tongue against outer claws of the fingers in order to tear life into the ions, to make sores bitter in the tongue’s blue ventricles. A kind of pain radiates therefore against the inner glands, a faint spasm of celebration before this, the nervous system’s last chance to communicate with the dying self. The mists smart, shimmer, the mustard gas’s lumps of blue cobalt corrode through the otherwise red shroud-clouds that drag their bellies against the surface of the river. In one of the skin folds between the pockets of the genital dress lizards gather in heaps of glimmering scales.

But time runs on time and starvation and the weakness carries me in across the gray surroundings. And the soul’s dark night will slowly be lowered through me. That is why I now slowly fold myself like a muscle against the wet clay to be met with the flesh against the sleep-gland’s mouths. I will sleep now in my bird body in the down, and a bitter star will eternally radiate above the glowing face’s watercourse.

Aase Berg is a poet, literary critic and translator. This excerpt is from her second book Mörk Materia (Dark Matter), a book-length science-fiction prose poem, published in Sweden in 2000. She currently resides in Stockholm.