sara kärpänen


I am a tree

I am the roots

I am the soil

I am the soil where New will flourish.

I am what I am

I will protect it

I will build a garden around it

I will water the soil with my teardrops

I will let the light in, I am not afraid of its brightness

I will let love find its space and pace, I will not push it away.

I stand on firm ground

I smell the blossoming of life,

I dip myself to take baths in it,

I let butterflies land on my shoulder blades and teach me

how to stay still.

I am here to listen

I am here for the river and the wind to navigate through me

I am here for life

the life I create, the life I belong to.


I looked inside my heart; it was full of flowers
soft pink yellow white petals

stacked on top of one another

How I haven't dared to see them before


People fall in and out of love like this,

all the time.

I didn’t fall out of love with you.

I fell out of love with myself,

when I was with you.


Unlike you think, your love is not special
Unlike you think, your pain is not special
Unlike you think,
you are special.


I am going to grow a bush

bigger than your back garden.

I’m going to cut my hair

and letting it grow like a sunflower.

My dreams will sprout new seeds

unknown of their strength and power

I will not drop a single leaf

before I’m ready for the next season

Because these roots are tucked deep

deeper than you ever had courage to see.

These roots are tucked deep

These roots are grown out of heavy raindrops bigger than your needs

These roots are tucked deep

Because I’m more than the solid tree,

I am wildly alive, and finally free.


The tangible lightness

the weight of




by herself

on a Monday morning

carrying all her everythingness

like a crown

on top of her fingertips

She’s strong

she’s fragile

She’s heavy

she’s light

she carries the ocean inside

She’s a tree

after dropping its leaves


a new layer

under her skin


a tree

is still a tree

even when it undresses its leaves.

E3 2NT

To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.

On lottovoitto syntyä Suomeen.

On muistettava

kuka on ja miksi

on rakastettava silloinkin kun on yksin

(etenkin silloin kun on yksin)

on pakattava laukut

on purettava laukut

on vaihdettava osoite



on muistettava numerot

to remember the numbers by heart

on sopeuduttava

muistettava punnita hedelmät

katsottava oikealla

katsottava vasemmalle

on kysyttävä tietä

on sanottava “en tiedä”

on astuttava maalle

joka ei tunne jalkojesi painoa

joka ei vaadi sinulta mitään vielä

on totuttava vanhaan

palattava uuteen

ja siinä,


olen jossain

mitä kutsumme kodiksi

the place we call home.


We are the girls who go to therapy

Green parka, bleached hair, red lipstick,

our eyes meet.

We hold the door, we smile, we say, “thank you, that was kind.”

We lock the door behind us,

We sit alone in a café,

exhale aloud.

We take a bath on Tuesday night,

listen to nothing but our pounding hearts

We mute the words, come back to our mother’s womb

to be reborn

to unlearn

to unleash the stuckness, the toxic masculinities

we call cultural norms.

We are the girls who go to therapy.


“You know, there’s food at home too.” That’s my mom in me saying.

So, I don’t buy the falafel salad box though I am craving greens

and I don’t buy the garaf of Shiraz though I wanted to sit in the corner table and read a book, on my own.

Instead, I hop on a bus, number eight to Bow church 

a route I know a little too well.

Hungry, tummy trembling, getting angry now


my mother in me

speaking in Finnish, “sapuskaa saa kotonakin.”

and just then,

I don’t feel alone anymore.


My mother’s love was over pouring

rushly made like morning porridge,

sticking at the bottom of the pan.

My mother’s love was over pouring unable to fill the gaps

of my father’s absence, dead silences after 9 pm news.

My mother’s love was over pouring.

Thin, strong, torso.

Short hair.

Sharp nose.

My mother’s love was over pouring

leaving me longing the traces 

her fingers drew on my back.


The fear of facing sorrow

The fear of facing solitude

Our mothers' sadness, which we carry in our hearts, a puddle of suppressed emotions.

There’s an ocean inside, trying to come out,

waves slapping the shore, words staying stuck

like the lump

in my throat.


I said, “I’m fine,” but actually

I thought about the broken ribs

and I thought about her BDSM experiences

I thought about the LGBTQ communities

and I thought about Virginia Woolf

I thought about my empty room

I thought about the sun’s rays entering my now-old living room

I thought about his flat nose and his Ray Bans and how much I wanted to touch his hair

I thought about the trips I had ahead

I thought about all the things I stored and put into cardboard boxes

I thought about the Instagram photos and the followers and their whatever comments

I thought about the dreams I had with big cocks

and I thought about the cold sweats

I thought about the traffic and the tattoos I had gotten

And the year that had passed that I was now thinking about, crying

(I thought about how tired I had become of hating everything you said.)


Minun kehoni ei kuulu sinulle

Minun kohtuni ei kuulu sinulle

Minun kehoni ei ole emoji
Minun kohtuni ei ole sinun mielipiteesi
minun kehoni ei ole sinun pöytäkahvikeskustelusi

minun kehoni ja kohtuni




My body is none of your business

My uterus is none of your business

My body is not an emoji
My uterus is not your opinion
my body is not your coffee table conversation

my body and my uterus
to myself.



I will not be the ellipsis on your lips

that leads nowhere.

The silence that follows the “but" after “I find you so attractive.”

Silence so long I could disappear there

(I don’t need to hear the rest.)

I’m not here to do that, to ease your cravings when they come to keep away the memories of your ex, on a Sunday night.

We are on different islands

and I say this like I’d say it to a friend,

a friend I actually like:

My roots are tucked into soil and you are floating, like those flies above the fruit bowl, drunk and lost

“I love the way you smell,” you whisper, next to my back.


No one else can fix me

Not you, not him, not her

No one else can fix me.

Not the parties we go to,
not the drinks and drugs we take
that make everything spin fast
so that none of us have to ask, "How long does this last?"

No one else can fix me.

Not the brunch we eat and the coffee we drink to ease our aching heads
Not the cigarettes we smoke
while watching the city turn pink
before the sky swallows the light
Not the business that occupies the fear in our hearts

No one else can fix me.

Not the Netflix we watch to tire our minds
Not the joints we smoke before bedtime
that feels like cotton pads covering our eyes

No one else can fix

softly lands.


Follow the cranes to gentrificationto eat oysters and drink Sauvignon Blanc by the glass.

Follow the cranes to gentrification, follow the dads with their strollers, greying beards and tattoos under their Adidas jackets.

Follow the cranes to the red brick walls, tin roofs and abandoned buildings with “we’re open” signs on the door.

Follow the cranes to gentrification before it’s too late to post it on your Insta feed, hashtag warehouseporn


Yes, I’m white

Yes, I’m from Finland (Suomi sulle)

Yes, I’m a woman.

Yes, I’m 31

Yes, I weigh 53 kilos (and 55 if I’m on my period)

Yes, my foot size is 4 (I know, too small)

Yes, I live in London.

Yes, I laugh loud

Yes, my accent is something you can’t pin down,

yes I’m this and yes I’m fucking that,

and yes I carry all this nothingness

like it’s too little or too much—which one, you can’t decide.


I sleep in this angular room, in all its four corners, in its in-between spaces, and in the dust balls growing under the rug, which I shake once a week from the open window into the street and watch the dust dance and land on a neighbor’s windowsill where the rubber mat I once dusted now lies lifeless.

I write in this room, I have conquered more space within its angled walls. I breathe in the air that smells of sleep and open the window under which the trees serve us, so beautiful they are.

I make love in this room, angular stone under the pillow, I'm alive and languid. The room writes me, I write him (her). I am complex and extended, multi-angled and spatial, delicate if I want to be.


Nukun tässä kulmikkaassa huoneessa, sen kaikissa neljässä kulmassa, sen välitiloissa ja maton alla kasvavissa pölypalloissa, joita ravistelen kerran viikossa kadulle avoimesta ikkunasta ja katselen kuinka pöly tanssii ja laskeutuu naapurin ikkunalaudalle, jossa kerran ravistelemani kumimatto nyt makaa elottomana myttynä.

Kirjoitan tässä huoneessa, olen vallannut lisää tilaa sen kulmikkaista päätyseinistä. Hengitän unenhajuista ilmaa ja avaan ikkunan, jonka alla puut palvelevat meitä, niin kauniita ne ovat.

Rakastelen tässä huoneessa, kulmikas kivi tyynyn alla, olen elossa ja raukea. Huone kirjoittaa minua, minä häntä. Olen monimutkainen ja ulottuvainen itsekin, monikulmainen ja tilallinen, hento jos haluan.


Duermo en esta habitación angular, en sus cuatro esquinas, en sus espacios intermedios y entre el polvo que crece debajo de la alfombra, la cual sacudo una vez por semana desde la ventana a la calle.

Veo el polvo bailar y aterrizar en el alféizar de la ventana del vecino, donde la alfombra de goma que una vez desempolvé, ahora yace sin vida.
Escribo en este cuarto. He conquistado los espacios de sus paredes angulares. Respiro el aire que huele a sueño y abro la ventana bajo la cual nos sirven los árboles––son tan hermosos. Hago el amor en esta habitación, piedra angular debajo de la almohada; estoy viva y lánguida. El cuarto me escribe, yo le escribo. Soy compleja y extendida, multi angular, espacial y delicada, si quiero.


You kissed me

and all our past lovers

paraded between our lips

awoken hunger

sed y hambre

Jubilee line

tourists passing by

the traffic, wind blowing through my jacket

All the first times

tattooed on our minds

All the first times

they say

they will never die.


I’m looking inside a house:

three people on a couch, living room, orange glow,

242 towards St. Pauls passing below

the brakes creak, the bus coughs, tired sound, pale passengers inside, like corpses, shallow souls, heads tilted down, staring at their phones, light reflecting on their isolated faces. Empty soda bottle rolling on the floor, back and forth, outside the air smells like grease, it’s heavy of oil and acid rain. For seconds the streets are painted with red and blue, the sirens scream, people shout, hum and drum, the everyday, the normal life.

I’m staring at the street beneath, a breeze of wind touching my cheek. There's someone, looking at me, our eyes meet, the bus comes, the moment's gone, another nightmare, another day, another dream.


The smell of you is tattooed in my nostrils and won’t go away.

I could get drunk of that smell alone.


There’s a taste of iron in your mouth. The remains of cocaine, from yesterday.

“Are you insane?” words echoing in my ears.

Don’t pray, I beg, please, stay, without asking, demanding, whispering, when the room bathes in afternoon light, we were supposed to leave hours ago, now it’s midday, day ruined, my mother would say, but I don’t move,

instead, I lie on my back, “touch me” yes you may and you mumble something like, “I thought you were hungry, don’t you want breakfast” and I hesitate but reply anyway, “I’m not finished yet” and you look at me, and you do touch me, far away, like I’m almost not there and now I can disappear, in the sheets I won’t smell again, in this t-shirt I’m not going to wear again,

and I almost come and we go in the sunshine, the sun is too bright, the sky is too blue and we have eggs for breakfast and we kiss goodbye,

the end.


The trees bent above me like an old man’s spine,

Their twigs were reaching the sky, which was turning from light blue to dark yellow.

The spaciousness made me feel safe, it held me tight.

I don’t know when the trees had undressed their leaves, but I hadn’t noticed that before.

I must have been asleep for a long time.


We’re sitting in a bar, Sunday night, just the two of us

Two glasses of house wine

A man in his fifties, on his own, sits at the corner table with his iPhone. I see another one now, my age, rushing through the glass doors, dragging his suitcase, his mobile home, face frozen and now he's gone, the lights dim in the bar, you are telling a story, and I zoom out—

Instead, I think about

the time when my skin became a map

the slow exploration of your left hand

leaving traces,

like heart-shaped roses

and I remember the rhythm and the slap

that now makes my eyes blink too fast

and you ask me if I’m alright

I say, yes, just a flashback

and I raise my glass

to the sudden memories, to the sex flashbacks.


If I tuck into,

into this longing I feel for you

it finds it feet

where hurt normally has its home

how can



so close to pain?


The lies boys tell you to get upstairs:

  • I want to see your paintings
  • Let’s smoke a spliff on the rooftop
  • I just want to hold you all night
  • Let’s have one more glass of wine
  • I have some great mescal at mine
  • I want to tell you something, inside
  • I’ve never had a one-night stand in my life.


The fear of facing sorrow

The fear of facing solitude

Our mother’s sadness, which we carry in our hearts,

a puddle of suppressed emotions.

There’s an ocean inside,

trying to come out,

waves slapping the shore,

words staying stuck like

the lump in my throat.


They don’t believe
we could do that.

Come home,
have a shower,
change clothes—
different underwear, same bra
brush our teeth
meet them in the park
be normal, laugh aloud, be quiet,
tell a lie
have a smoke, another ale, get high
read a book, rest on their chest

They say,

“Can I take you home,
do you like this,
let’s go there,
it was so nice,
xo xx”

And we say nothing back
they never think
we could do that
but it’s not a game, see;
it’s the unspoken rules
we learned to play.


Look left,

choose a route,

turn right,

find a new way home,

look at the map,

look front,

slow down,

8 minutes,

you can make it,

make it home, turn the key

disappear from the sight, from the mind, people fall in and out of love like this, all the time.


The loss of losing a home.

A home that is not a house

A home that once was,

a feeling of freedom, of love,

a home that smelled like you,

a home that was anything we dared to dream of

the special secret, the never-never land

a home that is now a construction site, a wasteland

being replaced

by someone else’s life, a master plan, the luxury man

what we once had

is now in their hands

who never has the courage to understand

of the dreams we built

of what you and I, had.


The most beautiful I’ve ever seen you,

you were broken in tiny pieces,

sharp like nails, I barely dared to touch you.

What you thought was your everything

shattered in front of you.

It got in the colour of your eyes, in the weary smile that stopped at the edges of your mouth, in the way you listened to others and closed your eyes in the middle of the crowd.

You avoided places so they wouldn’t bring you back; you tried to delete all the faces and replace them, but nothing was to last. You did everything with such intensity that it left you gasping air on the floor like a half-dead fish.

But that’s better than not feeling anything, you told me, "at least I know I am alive."


I had no idea

sorrow had so many stages

break up

[phrasal verb of break]


disintegrate or disperse.

"the grey clouds had begun to break up"

We are breaking up,

breaking into two halves, which once were, at least, felt like one.

We are breaking up the dreams we built

tearing off the puzzles that fit together so well

that they even made a “click” sound when they met

We are breaking up the “we” into you and me,

deciding on our own,

what, when, how, with whom, and where

I have accepted that fact

but I never knew

how many stages grief will have,

it keeps coming to me

I’m reminded what we once used to have.


The restlessness of us is tangible.

We want to get pissed, we want to forget, we want to get low, we try not to exist.

Remember me

Remember me

Remember me

Are you thinking of me, now?

The parody of us, of our time.

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