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Work Went On

by Eva Ström
Translated from Swedish by
Eva Claeson
Issue 9 Online Exclusive

Work went on in the hospital without patients.
The pregnant women died outside in the meadows.
The birds protected the dug up fields.

The rounds came and disappeared. The charts were now invented.
They dealt with protozoa and spiders and humans without toes,
cranes that flew through the ozone hole, got singed and died.

Nature endured. The hazel’s persevering catkin. The tenacity of
the brush, the desperate resistance of the roots and the wild rose branches
covered with prickles and thorns.

The unemployed gathered on the market square between high rises.
The animals had left their barns and fled.
No politician came to the appointed place.

Newspaper pages came out, white and unreadable like sacramental wafers.
The want ads were replaced by colorful comics.
All was abolished, both subscribers and news.

No one had an answer, any longer, to questions about the TV stations.
The questioners were powerless, the answerers likewise.
The big freezers were filled with unexposed film.

Eva Ström (born in 1947) is a Swedish poet, novelist, biographer, and literary critic. She made her literary debut in 1977 with the poetry collection Den brinnande zeppelinaren (The Burning Zeppelin). Ström trained as a physician and worked in the medical profession for more than a decade (1974–1988) before becoming a full-time author. She was awarded the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2003 for the poetry collection Revbensstäderna (The Rib Cities). In January 2010, she was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Eva Claeson is a translator and writer. After thirty years in Sweden and England, she moved to Amherst, MA, where she co-founded and co-edited the translation journal Metamorphoses. She is the translator of The Serious Game by Hjalmar Soderberg and of two novels by Margareta Ekström. She edited the anthology To Catch Life Anew: 10 Swedish Women Poets.