Time and Water

Steinn Steinarr


Time is like water,
and water is as cold and deep
as consciousness.

And time is like a reflection
made partly by water,
partly by me.

Time and water
rush trackless to vanish
inside my consciousness.


the sun was with me
like a slender woman
in yellow shoes.

Twenty fathoms down
my love and faith slept
like a flowering anemone.

And the sun passed
over the unsuspecting flower
in yellow shoes.


On transparent wings
water flies
back through its own wake.

The red-gold cord
running before me
follows no direction.

Beyond the bloodthirsty lips
of that scorching form
death’s flower thrives.

On a perpendicular plane
between circle and cone
death’s white flower grows.


A wave breaking
on copper sand.
A breeze rustling
the tall blue grasses.
A flower that died.

I hurled a stone
at a white wall,
and the stone laughed.


Water that flows
in the dead of night
out to fathomless sea.

My sable joy carved
its secret initial
on your silence.

And like amber, gold
in your shoals,
my sorrow gleamed.


I was a bowed head,
I was a dark-blue eye,
I was a white hand.

And my life stood still
like a small coin
balanced on its edge.

And time disappeared
like tears falling
on a white hand.


The sky rains
transparent dice
over the tumbling earth.

Day’s fire, light,
frozen with fear
passing through the swift angel,
like glass.

Blue-winged nights
sleep in the moon’s eaves,
man-stars come,
star-men come,
the slumbering waters come.

Everything comes,
nothing comes,
enveloped in billowing phosphorescence,
like god.



The whir of invisible wings
passes over my twilit soul,
like reddening light.

Tonight I will sleep
under a seven-starred sky
at the wide estuary.

While your voice rises
from the reeds of the past
like red light.


Net to hunt the wind:

Fleeing rockfish
suffused with the translucent light
of nothingness.

Sun-flamed rings of water
enclose concave mirrors
of four-dimensional dreams.

Tracks lost
under the evening snow
of doubt.

Net to hunt the wind:

Like a sun nearing sleep
casts a mesh of flame
to hunt god.


From my consciousness
to your lips
is a trackless sea.

But my dream glimmered
in a hidden swell
while the depths lay still.

And the sorrow I hid
nearly found your own
like a fjord-blue sea.


And the vault of my happiness
is made of pale light
from the river’s
distant sorrow.

The moonlight of impermanence
cleaves to my hands,
the viscous membrane
of what is.

And the darkness of my eyes
carries soft laughter
into evening’s
cold fire.


Like horses shod to the quick,
the blue mane of my thoughts
disappears through eternity’s back door.

The nameless days fall
like birds newly shot
into my night’s abode.

Like a hand with blue nails,
the negative yes rises
in the closeness of distance.

While my face sleeps
like burnt lime
in the river’s eye.


Blue rain
of wing-fanned days
falls upon a burning face.

Night enters
the mind’s void:
a story without name.

The nakedness of what is
loses itself
into nights and days.



I have walked on green sand
and the green sand
was all around me,
a sea within the sea.


Like a many-winged bird,
my hand flies to a break
in the mountain.

And my hand sinks
like an explosive
deep into the mountain,
and blows up the mountain.


Your likeness lives
in the sun-bleached light
of days of flowing hair.

I see your tears
fall over my sorrow
like alluring blue rain.

And your absence sleeps
for the first time
in my embrace.


Below time’s snowless peak,
my silence waited
like ripening grain.

I saw sunlight walking
along a gray-white path,
and my thought reached out to meet the sunlight,
and the sunlight stretched its golden head
over the sea-blue wall.

I saw darkness fly away
like a metallic bird
from my earth-brown hands.

And my silence changed
into emphatic union
with nothing and everything.

While the glistening darkness
soared on golden wings
through the sunlight.


The light
of my sorrow falls
white upon your sleeping eyes.

I’ll let my thoughts fly
over the trackless sea
toward your eyes.

That your happiness
bears my sorrow’s
pale light.


Two scarlet fish
in deep water.
Dark-blue shadows
on a white wall.

A violet cloud
over the mountain peak.

Across the sleeping earth
I’ve borne this white account.

And my words fell
upon the ice-blue water
like a spring night’s rain.


In your untraceable footprints
an imagined brightness fell
on my wool-white dream.

I saw your face reflected
in the crosscurrent waves
of a tidal stream.

Your features eluded me
like an icy shadow
between sleep and dream.


Silence flows
like a red sea
over my voice.

Silence drifts
like rusted darkness
across your reality.

Silence flows outward
in a three-fold circle
around silence.


Water flowing,
dawn-blue day,
voiceless night.

I’ve come to rest
in the half-closed eye
of eternity.

Far-off worlds
multiply like strange flowers
from my long-sleeping

I feel the darkness revolving
like a metal wheel
around light’s axis.

I feel time’s insistence
sink powerless
through a softness of water.

While eternity watches
my insoluble dream
with its single eye.

translated from the Icelandic by Christopher Burawa and Cynthia Hogue