Tomas Tranströmer, How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins

[I found the passage below in Jan Zwicky’s Wisdom & Metaphor. On the facing page, Zwicky writes: “Coming to experience the fit of human thought to the world is a way of finding ourselves at home.”]


The ferryboat smells of oil and something rattles all the time like an obsession. The spotlight’s turned on. We’re pulling into the jetty. I’m the only one who wants off here. “Need the gangway?” No. I take a long tottering stride right into the night and stand on the jetty, on the island. I feel wet and unwieldy, a butterfly just crept out of its cocoon, the plastic bags in each hand are misshapen wings. I turn round and see the boat gliding away with its shining windows, then grope my way towards the familiar house which has been empty for so long. There’s no one in any of the houses round about…. It’s good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don’t know if I’m asleep or awake. Some books I’ve read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without a trace…. I hear a hollow sound, an absentminded drumming. An object the wind keeps knocking against something the earth holds still. If the night is not just an absence of light, if the really is something, then it’s that sound. Stethoscope noises from a slow heart, it beats, goes silent for a time, comes back. As if the creature were moving in a zigzag across the Frontier. Or someone knocking in a wall, someone who belongs to the other world but was left behind here, knocking, wanting back. Too late. Couldn’t get down there, couldn’t get up there, couldn’t get aboard…. The other world is this world too. Next morning I see a golden-brown branch. A crawling stack of roots. Stones with faces. The forest is full of abandoned monsters which I love.


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