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Category: Poetry

Några Gråter; Sverige Sover (poetry, w/ English translation)

Några Gråter; Sverige Sover (poetry, w/ English translation)

During the winter 2015-2016, I volunteered at a refugee center. I was only there about one shift per week, but it had a great impact on me. I got to know some lovely people, got to use my Arabic in a practical way for the first time, but was also painfully reminded of how awful our current system is to those that come here in search of safety and stability. In March, the refugee center was closed and the last of the residents left on a bus late at night. I wrote this that evening, or maybe it was the next morning. It expresses some of all that I felt that night. The English translation is below the Swedish original, though it is not nearly as good and frankly comes off rather flat:

 

Några Gråter; Sverige Sover

Bussen går på tomgång i mörkret
En sista kram, ett handslag, och så går de ombord med sin oro och sin matsäck
Huttrande volontärer står på trottoaren och vinkar
Vinden tar tårarna
En bil tutar, måste förbi, måste runt, kan inte vänta de extra minuterna som sorgsna farväl behöver
Bussen rullar in i natten, mot norr, mot det okända
Bilen kör hem, hem till tevesoffan, till värmen
Några gråter
Sverige sover
Boendet var sekretessbelagt
Hemlighållet för att vår brist på medmänsklighet inte skulle skada dem
En besvärjelse mot den med tändstickorna
En viskning i vinden
Maten smakade skolmatsal, en nostalgitripp för oss, yoghurt för barnen som inte ville äta
Korridorerna ekade, längor av små inte-hem
De av oss som kunde prata, försökte lyssna
Några gråter
Sverige sover
Vart tar bussen mina vänner nu?
Målet är otydligt, en stad men ingen postkod, en hägring med suddiga konturer långt borta
Dagis, skola, språklektioner, eller överfulla sovsalar?
Vinden tar frågorna
Gav vi dem inte extra kläder för att vi inte visste om de skulle kunna ta med sig dem på bussen?
Varför vill vi att de ska nöja sig med smulor
som vi aldrig själva skulle stoppa i munnen?
Några gråter
Sverige sover


Some (people) are Crying; Sweden Sleeps

The bus idles in the dark
A final hug, a handshake, and they board with their worry and their packed food
Shivering volunteers stand waving on the sidewalk
The wind takes the tears
A car honks, needs to pass, to get around, can’t wait the extra minutes that a sad farewell requires
The bus rolls into the night, northbound, towards the unknown
The car drives home, home to the TV couch, to the warmth
Some are crying
Sweden sleeps
The housing was classified
Kept secret so that our lack of humanity wouldn’t harm them
An incantation against the one with the matches
A whisper in the wind
The food tasted like a school canteen, memory lane for us, yoghurt for the children who don’t want to eat
The hallways echoed, rows of little not-homes
Those of us who could speak, tried to listen
Some are crying
Sweden sleeps
Where is the bus taking my friends now?
The destination is unclear, a city but no postcode, a mirage with blurry edges far away
Daycare, school and language classes, or overcrowded dormitories?
The wind takes the questions
Did we refuse them extra clothes because we didn’t know if they’d be able to take them with them on the bus?
Why do we want them to be content with crumbs
That we would never put into our own mouths?
Some are crying
Sweden sleeps