And then there’s silence

translated by Mikaela Nyman

A photograph of a corrugated tin roof, partially peeled back

The children see trees bending bending and then they are broken coconutless frondless. The children see roofs in various states of disarray metal sheets lifting eaves pulled away. There’s Takaro’s house squatting hatless in gunmetal rain. There’s Nipo’s house mute and blind. There

lies Adam’s jeep Eveless crushed under the weight of fallen debris. Boats and outriggers lifted and tossed draped over trees. A mighty banyan planted upside down in the middle of Pango road pokes a root toe in the eye of the cyclone.

Here are the maps the children drew: see all the mamas daddies dogs children chickens houses fires dogs coconut palms mango trees vege gardens a forgotten laplap and the village water pump. A shoal of helicopters camouflage-patterned menacing friendly hauling goods picking up people hovering above the fray tiny stickpeople waving below while the trees are bending bending. Schoolbooks spread their white wings and crash

rainsoaked in the mud. And there’s our house with its butchered roof. And there’s the girl who bit her tongue when she was shoved off the rock helpless. And there’s the pregnant bitch that ate the tip of the tongue while it was still warm and homeless.

Translation from the Swedish

Mikaela Nyman holds a PhD in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the co-editor of Sista, Stanap Strong! A Vanuatu Women’s Anthology (2021) with Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen. Her first novel, Sado (2020), is set in Vanuatu. Her first poetry collection, När vändkrets läggs mot vändkrets (2019), was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2020.