Golden Wasp

Golden Wasp
by Tomas Tranströmer

The blindworm that legless lizard flows along the porch step
calm and majestic as an anaconda, only the size is different.
The sky is covered with clouds but the sun pushes through. Such is the day.

This morning the woman I love drove away the evil spirits.
As when you open the door of a dark shed somewhere in the south
and the light pours in
and the cockroaches scurry into the corners and up the walls
and are gone—you saw them and you didn't see them—
so her nakedness made the demons run.

As if they never existed.
But they'll come back.
With a thousand hands crossing the lines in the old-fashioned telephone exchange of the nerves.

It's the fifth of July. The lupines are stretching up as if they wanted to catch sight of the sea.
We're in the church of keeping-silence, of piety according to no letter.
As if they didn't exist, the implacable faces of the patriarchs
and the misspelling of God's name in stone.

I saw a true-to-the-letter TV preacher who'd piled up money.
But he was weak now and needed the support of a bodyguard,
who was a well-tailored young man with a smile tight as a muzzle.
A smile stifling a scream.
The scream of a child left alone in a hospital bed when the parents leave.

The divine brushes against a human being and lights a flame
but then draws back.
The flame attracts the shadows, they fly rustling in and join the flame,
which rises and blackens. And the smoke spreads out black and strangling.
At last only the black smoke, at last only the pious executioner.

The pious executioner leans forward
over the market square and the crowd that make a grainy mirror
in which he can see himself.

The greatest fanatic is the greatest doubter. Without knowing it.
He is a pact between two
where the one is a hundred percent visible and the other invisible.
How I hate that expression "a hundred percent."

Those who can never exist anywhere except on their façades
those who are never absentminded
those who never open the wrong door and catch a glimpse of the Unidentified One.
Walk past them!

It's the fifth of July. The sky is covered with clouds but the sun pushes through.
The blindworm flows along the porch step, calm and majestic as an anaconda.
The blindworm as if there were no bureaucracy.
The golden wasp as if there were no idolatry.
The lupines as if there were no "hundred percent."

I know the depth where one is both prisoner and ruler, like Persephone.
I often lay in the stiff grass down there
and watched the earth arch over me.
The vault of the earth.
Often—that was half of my life.

But today my gaze has left me.
My blindness has gone away.
The dark bat has left my face and is scissoring around in summer's bright space.

*** Translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton