By Eva Ström

Translated by Eva Claeson

from Issue 9: Ghosts


The paper boy had fallen asleep.
He lay curled up next to his bag of papers.
Should someone come and wake him?
And shout to the wondering people around:
Don’t be afraid, he’s not dead, only asleep.

There was no more news, whether good or bad.
Computer screens shimmered and gleamed, had
nothing to report.
The printing presses stood empty, printed only air and dew.
The tubercle bacilli had become resistant.

The resurrected sanatoria filled with patients.
Some slipped into asphyxiation. Unconscious and smiling
they left their lives, their rod-shaped resistant bacilli and pain.
A young woman tried on a wedding dress and veil,
while others ordered ever more costly dishes
only to turn away from them with rage and disgust.

The soldiers stood at the edge of the road with their machine guns.
Some showed pity and handed out snow
for the refugees to still their thirst.
Time blind they stared at the white moon.
They saw with alarm that their uniforms had been sewn in 1914
and that they were turning into their own ancestors.

Eva Ström is a Swedish lyricist, novelist, biographer, and literary critic. She made her literary debut in 1977 with the poetry collection Den brinnande zeppelinaren. Ström trained as a physician and worked in the medical profession 1974-1988 before becoming a full-time author. She was awarded the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2003 for the poetry collection The Rib Cities.

Eva Claeson is one of the founding editors of Metamorphoses. She spent her early life in Germany, Belgium, and Cuba, and she lived in San Francisco during the 1950s. She has translated short stories, novels, and poetry from Swedish to English.

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