When you got to the party, sent by God knows
whom—contingency, probably—wearing only
a lady’s fur, at the outset closed,
though only thrown on, shut but unbuttoned, 
nothing else on and totally bonkers
like some awesome Saturday night exotic
dancer at the apocalypse, then, implausibly,
the mood softened;  goddamned obnoxious,
obviously, but also with a waft of honesty
from your naked lodging in that savage cloak,
soaked in the skin’s perfumes and washed
unexpectedly up on wine-soaked coasts,
you stretch and yawn, posing, half exposing
and half not your glistening body,
a Venus’s shell fastens shining disks
to your throat’s and collarbone’s white skin
pressing against the fur, caressed like the Virgin
caressed the Christ child where he lay hidden;
you sense you’ve been devoured one minute, and an instant
later are evicted  from the soft interior
of the fur, its seamless, snug abyss,
from nature’s brim and from the night’s pit,
naked as Joseph when his brothers had stripped him
of his many-colored coat—but you’re going to be king,
already you’re the center of the party, gilded
in admiring glances, young and brilliant,
powdered and rouged, literally tipsy,
the fur half shut; wonderful, isn’t it,
at the same time exposed and cherished so intimately!
You caused us all to remember our beginnings.

“Till en ung man som anlände till festen klädd i en dampäls” © Håkan Sandell. From the collection Oslo-Passionen. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Bill Coyle. All rights reserved.

När du anlänt, sänd av Gud-vet-vem
till festen, tillfälligheter eventuellt, iklädd
bara en dampäls, inledningsvis stängd,
fastän bara påslängd, sluten men oknäppt,
näck undertill och helt väck på nått sätts
häftig lördagkvälls-undergångstripps-upplägg,
lättade ändå stämningarna, så jävla fräckt
men också med en oskuldsfullhetens fläkt
från det nakna uppehället i mörkerfällen
indränkt i skinnets parfymer och svett
oväntat uppsköljd på vindränkta stränder; 
sträcker på dig, halvt barläggande
en glänsande kropp och halvt pälsbetäckt;
ljusplättar kvarhäftande från venussnäckan
längs halsens och nyckelbenens vita hud
tryckande mot skinntäcket, smekt som Jungfrun
smekte Jesusbarnet där han gömts undan,
känner du överrumplad hur något slukat
upp dig innan du på nytt förskjuts 
färdiggnuggad ut ur den varma mjuka 
pälsens innandöme, dess sömlösa djup,
ur naturens bräm och ur nattens brunn,
naken som Josef, där hans brödrakull
plundrat honom - men du kommer att bli kung,
centrum på festen, strödd i guld
från beundrande blickar, ung och glansfull
invinglande berusad, rouge- och vitpudrad;
känns det inte underbart, pälsen halvsluten
och hängande mjukt över skuldrorna,
på en gång utlämnad och ömt omhuldad!
Fick du oss att minnas allas vårt ursprung. 




Håkan SandellHåkan Sandell

Håkan Sandell was born in southern Sweden in 1962 and began publishing at the age of nineteen. His latest collections are Skisser till ett århundrade (Sketches for a Century), 2006, and Gyllene dagar (Golden Days, 2009). A volume of his poetry, Tagebuch, Abendwolken, appeared in German in 2009. An volume in English translation, Dog Star Observations, is under way. In 2012 a small volume of his translations was published under the title Åtta poeter from Africa and Asia (Eight poets from Africa and Asia), and in 2013 a new collection of his poetry was released under the title Ode till demiurgen (Ode to the Demiurge), from the collection "Oslo-Passionen" (The Oslo Passion), inspired by the music of J. S. Bach. He lives in Norway.

Translated from SwedishSwedish by Bill CoyleBill Coyle

Bill Coyle's poems have appeared widely in magazines such as The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, The New Republic, and Poetry. His first volume of poems, The God of This World to His Prophet, won the New Criterion Poetry Prize and was published in 2006. His translations of the Swedish poet Håkan Sandell have appeared in Poetry, PN Review, Two Lines, and World Literature Today, and in 2010 he received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Coyle teaches in the English Department at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.