Travel with you


I would like to travel with you

to the bottom of the sea, a sunken city

outside Alexandria, and the water is

green-layered over broken pillars

almost like the palms in Antoniades Garden.

Perhaps it is a heathen temple yard.

Remains of wrecks – thwart and hull

washed in innocence.

And submarines play music behind

window panes, seaweed blend the tones.


It happens that divers come there

and take pictures and samples,

and a surprised caryatid

turns around meeting a frog-like

cyclops gaze, the dress folding deeply

from one hand and the headlocks

gather curling shades, when they

watch one another

from different worlds, in an

unexpected caesura

among the corals.


A ray flies past …

Why would we be awakened?

We would swing in that melody,

salter and heavier than any

manual of ars amandi.

Sulamits bekännelser (Lejd, 2023)

The rest is skin


From the darkness of my fate I strew my words,

among the cedar pillars in the porch.

Poetry is: I give you my soul.

The rest is skin.

I am black, burned by storm.

With my darkness I touch you.

I know you love me

for the sake of my black neck,

raised like a pillar over the Luxor temple.

Exegetes will measure the temperature of our voices,

raising and falling below the surface.

Perhaps we let each other down,

but I kept my script of darkness.

Can you see me dance along the line of sphinxes

with a necklace of rustling scarabs?

Sulamits bekännelser (Lejd, 2023)

Marie Tonkin is a Swedish-British poet. During the last years she has published five books of poems; the latest being Sulamits bekännelser (Lejd, 2023). Marie Tonkin has also translated poetry, for example Pärlor ur min krona; a selection of poems by German-Jewish Else Lasker-Schüler (Lejd, 2022). Marie Tonkin lives outside Stockholm.

Below are poems in English translation.

I met Aladdin in nightfalls of silk,

the neon lighting screamed along the souvenir shops

and he carried a roll of rags over his shoulder.

One evening I stopped the centuries.


It was on the market street in Aswan.

His eyes of amber had travelled over the desert line

and back, and he didn’t ask if I wanted

to buy a carpet, for they weren’t for sale.


But if you like, he said, I’ll give you one –

and the carpets rolled out like read dragon tongues

or shining pelts of extinct animals.

Handmade, he said, by a queen


in a distant land, to be stretched

between the clefts in time


when it breaks.

Sulamits bekännelser (Lejd, 2023)


That is mountain blue, he said,

the most precious colour.

It is transported along distant routes

and must be kept for the moments

when the valley beside your temple turns blue.

I am not well-off enough to use it often,

but then I do it anyway:

lapis lazuli grounded on the stone slab.

What is to become of us?

Den dyrbaraste färgen (Black Island Books, 2022)

To me you were exile and the taste of salt

when the shuttle in the weave suddenly

stops – turned away face; tune of a Spring bird;

prey caught in the game.

With my fingers I follow your

silent carnivore glance.

You are the gap between sorrow and dream,

like when the heron lifts from the mist.

If the home-coming you sought for

was fragmentary and roving;

if we stood in the rim of the forest gasping

and a wild roar was quieted

in the air like glass –

every street in me still carries your name,

the whole city mortgaged

out into the last sea blue vault of darkness.

My time is a whirlwind, but I am for you,

overcome by fire in the night.

Silver och eld (Silentium skrifter, 2020)