Mirkka Rekola : The
Mirkka Rekola was a minimalist before minimalism was invented. Eschewing
any poetic flummery, her passion has generally been infused into
brief, enigmatic notations of moments: reports of flashes of heightened
She records 'the best thing I remember' - captured as it flies.
It may be the sight of someone intensely loved in some very ordinary
action - but enhanced by an almost visionary light: a new rug is
being hugged: 'When you were embracing it I / almost felt it was
breathing, / that rug, it breathed that autumn's colours, and this
one's.' And nature isn't separate from us: 'embracing a tree we
grow.' Or: 'You'll never get such tenderness / ever as from the
snowfall's / thousands and thousands and thousands of moments.'
Rekola (born 1931) the kind of poet who implicitly invites the reader
into the creation of the poem. Language and aphorism tease by their
ambiguities, by what they leave out, and how they abrade the boundaries
of rational consciousness. She's on a mystical journey, often finding
without seeking - and notating the details that surprise her. Her
poems point rather than represent - fingers pointing at the moon,
in the familiar Zen phrase - but pointing at tender moments, felt
in their spontaneous, irrational order, left to explain themselves.
They're moments of crossing an edge towards an intenser awareness
of the universe's continuum - requiring us to wake up from sleep,
as we do at times of heightened consciousness and love. 'My parents
were anxious to sleep / when, as a child, I told them / their bed
was speeding through space - / you could see the stars tiny in the
' Her parents 'pulled their clothes over their heads
/ and turned their backs / like the earth wanting a rest from the
In her latest collection, Valekuun
reitti ('The path of a false moon', WSOY, 2004; see page 174)
- apparently a 'false moon' is some sort of nocturnal optical illusion
- there is still syntactical play with the plain language, though
less of it, and Rekola is writing a little more sequentially and
co-ordinately. The poems form recurrent tropes for a settled experience
of the universe's wholeness, felt as unfolding itself in experience.
Time and space are of course a unity; many of us know this intellectually,
but less often as an bodily feeling. Rekola experiences a year as
a place: 'When the year is a place / it's a city / in the cycle
of the years / twelve gates / in man
' 'The year is only a
place when / you come out of it
a gate that goes from here
and into here
' Birth is 'the gate we all come through'; and
death too is a gate we all pass through. And life, death, are not
separate: it's not life and death, but life-death, because
'time is death'.
What makes these paradoxical statements of 'the best thing I remember'
more than brilliant notebook jottings? It's the organic form in
the tiny structures: perhaps the formal repetition with variation
of a thought or feeling, the occasional rhyme if needed, the ramifications
of thought from her evocations of evanescence, the intensity and
economy themselves: those essentials of poetry.
The mystical questions remain questions,
not answers: koans. On his deathbed Meister Eckhart is asked
'Where are you going?' He replies 'There's no need to go anywhere'.