Once the Tree Was in Bloom

Bruno K. Öijer
Translated from the Swedish by Victoria Häggblom & Bruno K. Öijer

colors and thread
unraveled from the weave
I heard steps
leading away from me
I stood alone
among everything ravaged and bare
once the tree
was in bloom
once the branches glimmered
I prayed
to the seeds inside me
I prayed the tree would bloom again

I saw the future
a face that had run dry
a doomed river everyone drank from
I saw all humankind stare
I saw men and women
caress the executioner inside them
I saw that we had lost this planet

once the tree
was in bloom
once the presence of
a hungry winter night was strong enough
for you to
put out pieces of bread
along your windowsill
once you were alive
and carried a name
once you nursed the seeds inside you
the seeds of a tree
and moon leaves fell
star leaves drifted down in your body

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Bruno K. Öijer broke through as a rebellious young poet in the early 1970s with a brash style that drew equally from rock music and the historical avant-garde. In the 1980s, Öijer became a performing artist, touring Sweden with a band and releasing a record. In the 1990s he startled Swedish literature returning to written poetry with the legendary trilogy of books  — While the Poison Acts, The Lost Word, and The Fog of Everything — that together make up a powerful, mystical vision. The books became instant classics of modern Swedish poetry.

Bruno K. Öijer, bestselling author and fierce social critic, has reached an iconic status in Sweden. This is the first time all three books are published together in English translation.

Victoria Häggblom is a fiction writer and translator of Swedish living in the Bay Area. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

Notre Dame, Indiana

University of Notre Dame

"Öijer reminds us that poetry is magic and intoxication but most of all this: that we can be hypnotically entranced by a voice that has transformed its experience into song and language. His poems burn like a flash of white magnesium in a dark world."
—Sydsvenska Dagbladet

It is as if he were surrounded by invisible beings, words and images that only he sees but which he then invokes for us. He is like an oracle."
—Dagens Nyheter

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