Swedish Mystery on a Stormy Night

                “Death is very popular in Sweden.”
                                Tomas Transtromer answering a question
                                during a 1988 reading in Tucson
There’s fog across the train yards.
The golden lights of bedtime
glow beside a canal. While a cold case smoulders
in the archives a girl is found face down
on a grassy patch that breathes for the city.
It feels voyeuristic to watch the detective drink
away his private life as the call comes in
for him to start work. Ignition. He’s driving
through the dark. Paces around the body while
he turns the shade of the moon.
Low pressure on screen
and a plot becoming difficult
to follow through all
the flashbacks and twists while the soundtrack outside
blows rain and self doubt
against the window. Insecurity never asks
to be let in; it breaks down
the door and settles on the sofa
between fact and fiction. Here and now begins
to feel like Stockholm on a blood-stained night.
Murder as entertainment. A tangle
of loose ends. It becomes painful to watch
the detective’s indecision. He has
a knife-blade in his soul
and appears inadequate
in the task of bringing equilibrium back
to the world. The storm blunders through the neighborhood
turning over every leaf
and tipping trash bins
to look for the truth. It’s no use: the sky
is shaking. The perpetrator’s on the run and can’t decide
which way to turn. Say goodnight
to the mirror with no face.




David Chorlton




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