the gods are restless

sharon hope fabriz
2 min readJul 15, 2021
painting (unidentified artist) from Swedish great-grandparents on my mother’s paternal side

The gods are restless. I typed too fast without reading the words and there it is. The gods are restless. I meant to type dogs.

I’m a fan of the fact that god is dog spelled backwards. I wonder at the tour de force that made that true. The evolution of language has a wisdom all its own.

I’ve been studying Swedish on Duolingo now for a year and a half. The hobby has been one of my COVID Stay Sharp and Challenge Yourself tests of will. My current playing streak is 180 days. I lost my even longer run when a migraine put me to bed for two days, and I couldn’t think straight in English much less Swedish. My spirit dragged when I saw my proof of engagement plummet to zero. So this is what it feels like to die in a video game, I thought. Still, I hold more knowledge than before.

Jag alskar dig. I love you. God morgon. Good morning. Kvinnor scriver. The women write. Hundarna springer. The dogs run.

Swedish is the language of my foremothers and fathers. My mother can still invoke the lilts of tone that bring Swedish expressions to life. She taught me what she thought I needed to know: tack sa mycket — thank you very much. I remember my grandmother reading letters to me in her native language from relatives in Sweden. Who were they? Where did they live? I wish I had paid more attention there on her front porch on 42nd Street South during our family’s summer visits to Minneapolis.

I imagine a family who speaks no English, who banters and cuddles and coos in Svenska not Engelska. Who looks upon a landscape that holds a variation of human memory unknown to me. A family whose sky gives more light in summer and more dark in winter. A family who lives under the aurora borealis and understands snow and ice like I never have. A family who fishes and farms and relies on the turning of seasons more than I do. What of their memory’s DNA lives in me? What of their innate wisdom travels in my bones?

A few days ago, I wrote a song in Swedish. The tune is an unsettled ballad, notes still in flux. The lyrics fill the restless space in my heart between me and the ancestors I have yet to know.

penned by SHF, July 2021