Your Hair of Snakes and Flowers

Translated by Bill Coyle
When I saw one of those men touch your hair,   
I heard for the first time in many a year
the ancient battle trumpets and I saw
the banners of an army winding off to war
and felt that blind power urging me to knock
him out with one punch, send him tumbling to the floor.
If nobody had held me back, stopped me,   
I would—God help me—have killed him on the spot,
stomped out his blood, and spit in it. I'm sorry,
but you must be aware your winding hair   
is different now, a hornets' nest, a snakes' lair!
Yes, like a ball of snakes in a flower basket, dear.

More Poems by Håkan Sandell