Enduring the Europe of Beth


By Aje Björkman

I

On Ponte di Rialto, you spoke of bones
while the city sank—face up, languidly—
under the pressure of sea salted domes
and the memories of medieval might.

Syllables, you said, are tiny bones
and words are bastioned bone-yards,
temples. And a seasoned tongue does not
suck the marrow and spit it out anew;
it feeds the hollow with aquaduct mouth
waters and whispers skeletons to life.

So I held my tongue and imagined
a lung with membrane vulnerable to
short shorts and neologistic soot,
legsie. I held my tongue and stared at the
water, imagining bloated floaters.

II

By a table in a restaurant by
Las Ramblas, under Columbus´shadow,
you played the bangs of your thick amber hair
and sipped Sangria from a swirly straw.

While the white wave of leisure toyed with my
coy inner ear, you once again spoke of 
imaginable pasts. The written word,
you said, should conceptually equate
the ouija-call; should hold still
the hummingbird of postmodernity.

I admit, I understood nothing.
I admit, I downed my Indian Pale Ale
with pretend thirst, telling myself that
everything said had something to do with
the chip in the statue of Columbus by the sea. 

III

Before the glass of Berliner fernseh-
turm, you nibbled a pretzel and spoke a rip-
roaring rhetoric, getting under the
skin of our surroundings—its flesh. The theft

of chunks of public air and space and time 
gave rise to a faint smell of blood. But 
you kept on bloodletting. And why is it,
I thought, that theft of air-space-time smells like
blood, when one imagines it should smell like
marshmallow-meteors in flame. And so

I asked, hesitantly—how ´bout the view?
And you answered, with a snicker, that the
view was just fine—like some isometric
platform game-world lacking in color but
not in mapping-functionality. 


Aje Björkman is of Swedish birth, his feet planted in Swedish soil, too: he’s a freelance journalist and writer based in Karlskrona. His previous creative work in English has appeared in One Throne MagazineSquawk Back, and in Remaking Moby-Dick, a special issue of Pea River Journal.