My daughter is ill with schizophrenia: There are
visions and voices that don’t exist, says a white doctor
who treats her with chemicals.

My daughter is so psychotic now, I am so frightened, Daddy, she says, she sees
that they slaughter people and burn the corpses
so that the smoke rises up silver-grey to the sky while the ash is used
for dunging the vegetable fields: White turnips grow there
in the fields, in a white moonshine, she says.

She sees that they administer poison to the deformed and afterwards
they tear the skin off the dead and the skins are prepared and sent in
to the women with sewing machines who make lampshades out of them. They shine
so yellow, she says.

She looks at me here in this ward A and says
we live in a huge slaughter house, they slaughter deformed people behind this wall.
Outside there are vast forests
with thousands of skulls under the heather.
My daughter has a genetic defect.

There are meadows full of rotten corpses, just stick your spade
in the earth there, Daddy, she says.
This does not exist. She is the only one who sees, she is
so psychotic. She hears someone putting together
electric chairs outside, she doesn’t dare sit down, she just stands here.

She looks at me.
Don’t you hear? She asks.

*

Today she doesn’t want to speak to me on the phone.
She just sends me an immobile eye
through the telephone cable.
I think that this cable goes under the sea, the ocean bed.
I picture Mette in winter, such a thin child she was then: She licked
at a frozen iron fence, the skin of her tongue
stuck fast when she tugged her mouth free.
This eye that sees, immobile, tender, through a cable
under the ocean bed.

*

You are so handsome, Daddy, she says,
you could have been a model, you and Jesus
could have been barkeepers together.
But I am just a heavy turd.
Now God will soon pull on the string
so that I will be flushed down into hell.

But I used to be so light. You saw
that I could rise straight up into the air, Daddy.

Someone has cut off my wings, now
they want to saw off my feet too.
It is the President who removes people’s feet.
But first he makes me swim over an icy river
with a corpse on my back
and then I step on the mines on the far shore,
he has buried them everywhere in the sand.

I do not want to turn on the taps in the bath. The President
speaks through my taps.
I am afraid, Daddy.

*

I am a lump of fat, my daughter says on the phone now.
Why am I not a model?

The President has made a coffin for me, there is no room
for my feet or my hands there.
He works on his coffins over there, we are
sacrificial victims. It’s all on the TV.
Don’t you watch TV, Daddy? The News?
I don’t dare look at the TV any longer, because then he is there,
the President with the coffins.

*

Still abroad, I can reach my daughter
only by phone. She is talking about the President
today as well—It is he
who says I am a lump of fat, Daddy, he says it
through the taps on my bath, don’t you hear?
Now he says that he won’t send me out there
after all, to slaughter me there.
Now he says that he has changed his mind
and that he will abort me because I have
turned out badly, such a deformed
foetus
I am to be cooked as a foetus in a big pot here in ward A
and I am to become powder, medicine for those
who are to be allowed to live, big white tablets.

*

Why is the King here? He came through my mirror
and says that he is the King and comes with my clothes.

Why does he always come with skirts from the Salvation Army
second-hand shop for me? Can’t he give them to Mette-Marit?
Can’t the King take Mette-Marit instead
to the President in the second-hand clothes and ask the President to stop
tormenting me?

He always sneaks off with my make-up.
Can’t you ask the King to stop this, Daddy?
The King is the King, isn’t he? Ask him to go to the President
and stop this? I will soon be cooked, I am an abortion
in the President’s pots.

Doesn’t he have enough money by now, the President? Does he need to sell more
foetuses for medicines? He can have my make-up instead.

*

My daughter is in another country, there is a phone, a voice
and an eye through the voice. The cable
goes with such anguish under the ocean bed
between us.

I play the Messiah to avoid the pain, I have jotted down in the phone
book “The wind of the Spirit,” “Music leads us to God
through the lack of truth.” “The angel says: Hear
the music from the Invisible.”
A storm is coming on outside, the sea is rising
strongly, dark over the island. All ships
in the harbour, no planes in the air here now.

*

Daddy, she whispers on the phone today, I hear
all the voices in the world, perceive all sounds.
There is someone who is listening in me, Daddy, there is a breath
a wind in me that wants me to fly.

I turn up the Messiah to the highest volume, open
the windows on to the birds and now I write to the King
(in my belief that the King reads poems):
His Majesty King Harald V, The Royal Castle, Oslo, Norway.

Your Majesty,
My daughter suffers under the delusion that she is worth
nothing. She fears that she is a foetus
and that she will be aborted because of genetic defects.
She has a mother who sank down to the very depths
in psychosis, in a black muddy pond of the mind, when she was the same age.
But she is fond of both human beings and animals.
I hope Your Majesty too will think it strange
that she should not be allowed to experience the birds
and the wind, the sun, just because she suffers from
a deep psychosis.
When she is happy, she has the brightest laughter
I know, as if a prayer in the dust
had been heard, there is a gate in us that she opens up,
Your Majesty.

 

translated from the Norwegian by Brian McNeil