Life Form

Translated by Johannes Göransson

Will haul this gelatinous body, will lash forward this non-form, will push this organism of gas through the gray regions.
A sour wind tears through the thin white hair. A wind of vinegar and henbane tears in the rustling, discarded bird-shells that were abandoned empty and fragile when the throbbing bird-boils moved on toward so-called life. Now I see the cunning needle-trees sling these clumps of heavy pouch-flesh back and forth between them: small feather-birds “fly” above my heads.
I haul myself, I haul myself, I haul my dragging structure along the river furrow’s muddy, sloppily overlapping slopes. I am so bitter, so wet, so the mouth smears the inside with the sweetness of the chewed-up blood-chisel. Out of this blood I am going to suck my nourishment for some time.
I haul, I urge my dissolved substance, slowly forward across the metal of calm stones, the hovering thread-glue’s suction toward a point in the distant middle of the perspective. Where the river’s banks will meet and like the thinnest needle of silver of liquid will drill its dark tunnel-water straight into the heart of the dying image, this moistly broken-up surface of paper to which we cling.
I haul I haul I touch myself, touch the skin-rind with chafed-up viscous fingers. Little mermaid from ocean foam molded–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 to swallow the entire lung full of clear wind.
Lizards play, glitter green, blue, and red between the skin membranes of the body dress. Where does this mass end? I search inward through strata 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. Something to hold on to behind the spread of the sickness of mud, fermentation. But there is nothing to grasp beneath this mantle of slippery webbed skin, burst through by a pounding net of veins.
I now lick my tongue against the outer claws of the fingers to tear life into the ions, to make sores bitter in the tongue’s blue ventricles. A kind of pain therefore radiates against the inner glands, a faint spasm of cheers before this, the nervous system’s last chance to communicate with the dying I. The mists smart, shimmer, the lumps of blue cobalt from the mustard gas corrode through the otherwise red shroud-clouds that drag their bellies against the river’s surface. 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 regions. 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 press the flesh against the sleep-gland’s mouths. I will sleep now in my bird body in the down, and a bitter star will radiate eternally above the glowing face’s watercourse.

Aase Berg, "Life Form" from Dark Matter. Copyright © 1997, 2005, and 2013 by Aase Berg. Translation copyright  © 2005 and 2012 by Johannes Göransson. Reprinted by permission of Black Ocean.
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