Sara Tuss Efrik

translated by Johannes Göransson


(Automanic rite on Ester Martin Bergsmarks & Mark Efrik Hammarberg’s Maggie Wakes Up on the Balcony)

She’s put on the protective clothing. She’s bought an air rifle for 3500 kronor. She’s going to kill the birds because they shit on her balcony. Because they never leave her in peace. They will never leave her in peace. Also, they are infected with bird flu. She’s heard that on the radio. She wears protective gloves. Obviously she has to protect her uncrushed neck. Her body is a barrel. There is a bird seeds inside her eye. The mirror is on fire in the living room. The infected animals dance in the sky with their infected wings. She has a stalker in her bedroom. The protective clothing she wears is silver-colored. She remembers when her dad laughed. An invasion is taking place on the balcony. The washing machine shakes the bathroom. The silverfish have shed their silver flakes on the floor. The feet are dirty. There is something devastating about this world. All the wings spread diseases, just like the wings of freedom, just like the imagined ones. The bird shit sticks to her feet. There is a boat in the bathroom. The walls have been covered with tar. The bird-net has come unraveled. The protective silver clothes have fallen down from her shoulders.


(Automanic rite on the beginning of the word)

In the beginning was the Ox. The Ox received a name, it was named Alfe, and thus the Ox Alfe became the first letters of the alphabet. The animal became a hang-up, and this hang-up was transformed into technique, and from this technique came a fetish, and out of this fetish came image productions and collages, and in these visual images one may once again glimpse the Ox, which is once again constructed and named Alfe, having become the first letters of the alphabet. Its defecation includes capitals and ligatures. The Oxe Alfe is lost. It tries to interpret itself. It tries to convince the other animals that all information should be on the surface; that one can in fact cut off the underside. The Ox Alfe is not convinced that the ratios always correspond in the golden rectangle. The Ox Alfe wants to be mangled by hypertext. The Ox Alfe cannot find his way home. It has gone astray in the golden triangle.


(Automanic rite on Jean Genet’s The Tightrope Walker)

My leg was cut off right across the thigh. It happened while I was at the highest point up there on the very tight rope. At the same time as the leg was cut off, some stitches unraveled in my black tights. 

My wig was made of the sheerest paper. Since my wig is made of this thin material, it is pretty hard to keep my balance when my center of gravity shifts too suddenly. There is nothing that can successfully keep me upright, not even my joke of a hairpiece. 

My cut-off leg was wrapped up by the great speed before it hit the ground. I reached the trampoline. I immediately laid down to rest in the sheet in which I had once tucked my doll. The sheet is stained by sperm and ashes. I puked blood all over the stained white. Puss dripped from the leg-stump. The smell of innards was dizzying. I also lost the thin paper. I no longer even had fake hair to hold on to. 

Glasses clinked when you toasted, down there on the ground, at the same time as I had finally succeeded with my bloody act. You raised the white tulle and the cut-off limbs to the skies. You applauded my exhaustion.


(Automanic rite on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

The willow tree leans across the creek, its leaves are reflected in the water, a glistening reflection that undulates in the waves. The leaves of the tree are tangled. That the leaves are tangled is a sure sign that the winter is going to be hard this year. The silver-grey leaves in the water float into the braids of the girl’s hair. The girl’s hair billows in the water. She hovers above her own mirror reflection. She hangs from the willow tree’s biggest branch. 

The girl is her own silver-gray reflection. 

I despise the insane man with whom I have fallen in love. How I crawl after him between the lines on the paper, between the disgusting letters. And how pathetically he asks me to dance his insanity dance, how he pushes his head between my thighs, how he shows off act after act. And I play along, one of the most beautiful of all actresses will soon be the craziest of them all. 

Out of her apron pockets, she pulls out the flowers she picked earlier in the day. She braids them into a wreath, all the rotting nettles, daisies, spearworts and orchids. She winds a fool’s bush out of the fantastic plants. Slowly the bouquet is transformed into a heap of dead man’s fingers. Dead man’s fingers is the words that shy girls use to describe how rude fingers touch their thighs. 

She whirls around her branch, attaches the wreath of dead man’s fingers to the bark. She decorates and adorns the tree, which she still trusts. Suddenly the treasonous branch breaks and she falls. In her hand she still holds the dead man’s fingers, a slack and useless hand. She falls straight into the water, into the river of the insane man’s tears. Her skirts spread out. For a brief moment, these billowing clothes hold her up. But that moment is brief. 

She is a mermaid. She’s always been a mermaid, even though she has hid this from everyone, even herself, until this moment. She sings the old psalms, humming disparate stanzas, half-remembered melodies. The water carries her, and she floats away with her dress as a kind of life jacket. She travels through her own danger. Soon her dress is so heavy with water that she sinks down. Carried by her own songs she travels down to death and sand.


Sara Tuss Efrik (b. 1981) in Falun, Sweden. Her first novel Mumieland (Mummy Land) was published by Rosenlarv Förlag in 2012. Chapbooks of her long poem Night's Belly and a selection of her "automanias" are forthcoming in translation by Paul Cunningham (from Goodmorning Menagerie and Toad Press). She is now working on black suns, the greek nymph Calypso, anaesthesia and nothingness in a novel called Heroine. You can find her video monolouges here. 

Johannes Göransson is the author of six books. He has also translated books and poems by Swedish-language authors like Aase Berg, Ann Jäderlund and Johan Jönson. He teaches at the University of Notre Dame and edits Action Books.