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To Friends Behind a Border

Tomas Tranströmer, a version in English by Robin Robertson

I

I wrote to you so cautiously. But what I couldn’t say
filled and grew like a hot-air balloon
and finally floated away through the night sky.

II

Now my letter is with the censor. He lights his lamp.
In its glare my words leap like monkeys at a wire mesh,
clattering it, stopping to bare their teeth.

III

Read between the lines. We will meet in two hundred years
when the microphones in the hotel walls are forgotten—
when they can sleep at last, become ammonites.

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