Skogsrå (Wood Nymph)

 FOR MARIT LINDBERG

Jan-Litt worked as a charcoal-burner
(“Litt” because he was a little man).
He was used to boredom: he watched coal for a living,
was the enemy of every kind of fire,
lived in a wood hutch staked out by an infinity of Swedish trees.
Numb with tedium, he had taken time out
for nineteenth-century day-dreams,
for a swig of corn-brandy.
Like a fantasy, out of green forest haze,
the wood nymph slid, dressed
in the body of a woman wearing “fine long hair”,
chill eyes wide with another species’ feeling.
Jan-Litt offered her the bottle —
was he stunned into hospitality
or did he rise in the presence of this stark, naked creature

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