Linnea Axelsson (trans. Saskia Vogel)

January 16, 2024 
The following is from Linnea Axelsson's Ædnan. Axelsson is a Sámi-Swedish writer, born in the province of North Bothnia in Sweden. In 2009, she earned a Ph.D, in art history from Umeå University. In 2018, she was awarded the August Prize for this book. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

In Northern Sámi, the word Ædnan means the land, the earth, and my mother. It sounds similar to the word ædno, “the river,” and ædni, “the mother.” In today’s orthography these words are written as eana(n), eatnu, and eadni. Etymologically they seem to come from the same root word, which roughly means “great.”

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Night camp at Lake Gobmejávri, near to where Sweden, Finland, and Norway meet. Early spring 1913

The voice

the cup that memory
I drink your hair
and soar

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Through the fells
that birthed us and
twine us together

your body and mine

Fingers search
and the heart

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where I wander

A rangeland runs
from the forest snow
to the windswept shore

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There my herd scrapes
and leads us
land to land

prying me from
your arms

among the lichen

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Excerpted from Ædnan by Linnea Axelsson. Copyright © 2024 by Linnea Axelsson. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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