Necessity Without Practice

If it were not for the prospects of change
And a few righteous houses just opposite
I would not understand what I do
All day
Everything that happens
When one attempts something
When one gets started
When I cough
Or scratch
When I hurt myself
Bite my nails
Pick at small scabs
When I somewhat unexpectedly start writing
On an unfinished letter
I catch sight of
Among all the papers
It is as though wandering into
Someone’s wedding uninvited
Thought I’d just say hello and congratulations
Lift an empty glass
Fake a few sips
And let whatever happens
Let it accelerate or cease
As a child falling asleep in mid-sentence
An obscurity of thought
A blurriness
In the thought
That one actually does not know what to do
When one comes to a new job
Or a party
And tries to look occupied
A while longer
Like the distance
The thought
The two or three seconds before events unfold
A while longer
Allowing the memory to occupy and penetrate the skin
Like rain
Like hard jets of water
Like two or three completely different summations
Of the life one has lived until now
The life one controls
Moves into a new apartment
A new building
Or places between two unknown hands
In the best and simplest manner
There from that distance
The thought
Of all the things that have made me what I am today
The thought that something has been initiated
Incompletely extended
In a meaningful enriching relationship
Between the surroundings and oneself
A quiet picture-perfect rich life with the kids
And ones aging parents
Every unreflected gesture:
To instinctively put a hand to one’s mouth
Before a sneeze
This tribute to those who once taught these things
That one would gladly in turn teach others
As if fused together and pushed up the escalator
And through the revolving doors
To peek out at the garden
The trees
A step taken
The distance between doing something
And refraining from it
The distance between standing
And walking
The attentiveness
The shoes in focus
Steps slapping against the stone floor of an airport
Somewhere in Western Europe
Memories’ unexpected ordering of future projects
It is all this necessity
That endures
A radio
Boiled potatoes
A fork one has forgotten to take out
Reality is too slow
It is a glass of water next to the bed
A first suspicion
That it might be my own cold
That hits my teeth
These sharp little white children
On the shoreline
The meeting between friends
Passing the salt
Helping each other clear off the table
All slightly more foolish and clumsy
Than the situation calls for
It is a consistently performed lifelessness
To a mutual advantage
This enormous amount of energy
Put into doing nothing
Or to constantly err
Just when one has thought to have chosen the easiest way
These necessary routines
Certain approaches
Certain techniques
Of relaxing
Of not tightening one’s jaw muscles
Keeping one’s stomach in trim
Dreaming of women almost competely without breasts
And silently bearing the problem with the breasts
To have a notion of a special type of letter
That would destroy everything one has built up
Over the years
The memory of something that happened once at a terrible party
Or the smell of shoe polish
The squeak of cotton in the ear
In one of the barracks I remembered
Right in the middle of a sudden sneeze
Sometime in the eighties
Insanity is always intact in the sudden exhalation
It is the shaving brush I once had
A favorite
Quite honestly
I remember it with great pain
The scale of a fish I found almost fifteen years ago
In a crease in the punched leather
Right next to the buckle
On my belt
I remember how I brushed it away almost immediatly
It was so easy
It was the simple satisfaction
Of doing something well
Of doing something properly
It was the satisfaction of holding ones arm straight and outstretched
In a reasonable direction
Clean-shaven youthful and aloof
And meaning that this is exactly what is needed
That which we lack
That which is necessary
That place in life
That building
Surely the fish scale was unnecessary
Or (why not?) allow oneself a minimum of humility
And really consider letting oneself be affected
And wave a bit with the pointing finger in a “look over there!”
Or the opposite
First an arms lengths “look over there!” and then
With the same precocious sleep-walking pragmatism
Wave towards something limitable
As if both elated and awe-struck over the effort
One knows one will have to muster
When the eyes are not aimed at any specific target
When they are not properly tuned in
When one knows approximately what awaits
But can not define it as of yet
The beloved fatigue
The carelessness
That sets in after a hard days work
The way one leans forward in a chair and slowly sways
With a couple of fingers in the trouser pocket
Relieving the scrotum
The act’s impression
On one’s imagination
In the muscles’ condition
Recycling that wich one has seen and felt
Everyday of one’s life
All that has made me the person I am
All the letters I see unwritten
In another country
On the way to another country
The backwards chain of events
A mailman without arms
A mailman without legs
Without an elevator
Without practice
And this as an answer
Sent back
As reality
As the quick shallow breathing
Right next to
The hips
Of one malleable person or other
In a type
Of circumstances
Of forwarded negotiating truths
That move constantly
But contain the thought
Of the living
As living
And of the dead
As dead
In other words: knowing what one has until now
Knowing what one stands between
These hands in the best and most lovely manner
Simple and living smiling with happiness
Happy with happiness and without witness all the while
Not yet born and no longer living

Published 22 November 2000
Original in Swedish
Translated by Richard G. Carlson

Contributed by Glänta © Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson


Read in: SV / EN

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