The Marvelous Bonfire
On translating Finnish literature into English.
The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal
27: Or, Death Makes an Artist,
From the Christmas tree, there hang, in desperate-looking arrangements, the eleven red ball ornaments I was able to find; on two opposing branches, two glass birds that have seen better days show off; and decorating the top of the tree, the pink star, familiar from my childhood but by now badly dinged up. We haven’t bought chocolates because Dad decided to obtain them from the post-Christmas markdowns. The five strands of ancient electric candles that he’s been keeping in some dusty box just had to be arranged somewhat symmetrically into the sparse tree.
“Nice tree,” Dad says, clearly moved, after powering the whole arrangement.
The lit-up tree blinds me.
“Well, it is handsome.” Grandma agrees with him, for the first time in seven years.
From the Christmas tree, there hang, in desperate-looking clusters, the eleven red ball ornaments I was able to track down; a pair of glass birds that have seen better days preen on opposing branches; the pink star of my childhood, familiar but by now badly dinged up, tops the tree. We haven’t bought chocolate because Dad has decided to wait for post-Christmas markdowns. The five strands of ancient electric candles that he’s been hoarding in some dusty box just had to be arranged somewhat symmetrically into the sparse tree.
“Nice tree,” Dad says, clearly moved, after powering on the whole arrangement.
The lit-up tree is blinding.
“Well, it is handsome,” Grandma says, agreeing with him for the first time in seven years.
Niina Pollari is a poet and Finnish translator currently located in Western North Carolina. She is the author of the poetry collections Path of Totality (Soft Skull 2022) and Dead Horse (Birds, LLC 2015), as well as the co-author of the split chapbook Total Mood Killer (Tiger Bee Press 2017). Find her on Twitter at @heartbarf.
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