Inga Svala Thorsdottir


I was brought up in the country.
I was eight years old when I first "put my hand up a sheep to save a lamb", as they used to put it. My hand slid into the sheep, sometimes up to the elbow, even reaching up to the shoulder. The feeling was tight, hot, complete, an infinity. I felt I was sinking into deep space: at that time I had not heard of black holes. Later, when I read about them, I felt that I knew them intimately.
I was thirteen years old, helping them with the lambing out east. My job that morning was to sweep the yards. I felt a strange ache, was swallowed up by a kind of unknown powerlessness. I went weak at the knees, and the yard seemed an infinity. At lunch, I couldn't keep anything down. Out in the toilet I discovered blood in my pants for the first time. It wasn't a very big patch, but it was an undeniable fact, just like the powerlessness that morning. The lunch break was short, and after that everyone went out to the sheep sheds together in a Russian jeep and a tractor. Out from the sheds came the bleating of a sheep that was in a bad way. Her waters had broken, but for some reason she didn't know how to push. Maybe her frame was too narrow, maybe that inherited collective memory which at such times is supposed to come in useful had failed her. I knew that the sheep was two years old, and also that she had had a ewe the previous year.
I knelt down in the stall beside her. She was breathing fast, and clearly very weak. I spoke gently to her as I reached slowly and cautiously up inside her. We became one. I groped with my hand, felt two lambs badly tangled up together.I felt the heartbeat of one of the lambs, needed to separate them, pulled them out one at a time. The sheep panted deeply, showed her suffering. Her blood soaked my pullover up to the armpit. We bled as one. I felt I was awash inside myself. Me her, giving birth to these lambs. At last I succeeded in working out which leg was which, succeeded in getting a firm hold on the front legs of one of the lambs and pulling it out. First came a ewe, and then a young ram. Both of them survived. The mother eagerly, immediately licked them clean, seemed in no doubt that these lambs were hers. I was the one who wasn't certain. I was totally exhausted, it felt like the first time I had given birth.
I later discovered other openings. First of all I found the openings to my own body, and later, together the openings to his body. In order to search we need peace and quiet. We peak. Touch, poke, feel. Go carefully inside, around the outside. Lose direction, find ourselves elsewhere. Come. When he reaches orgasm around my fingers, he clenches them tightly, around them, again and again. I close my eyes and feel that we are two women.
Sometimes he is as I have heard men describe women, shy and wary about opening his legs completely. And he clamps you like a girl. I can understand his shyness well, because I am a woman and know the trouble you have to go to to examine my genitals2. They are out of eyeshot. When he discovered his opening with me, he said, "Wow,I felt like I was you." It was then that I decided to paint this picture and call it "Ódur" (ode/ecstatic). A man there before me with an opening to play with, an opening just like mine. Admittedly, he had only one opening while I had two. And both of us have additional openings. Three openings is no small share, but in spite of that I have dreamt of having more openings, and a brand new "pit"3. I know that I could get more if I really felt like it; they've been designing such things now at the end of the century. I decide to content myself for now with those openings that I was provided with at the start. Draw a picture of myself with more openings and a new "pit" (pictures are a good way of doing that sort of thing). Some people might think that in making pictures, an artist has more control over her subject than she can get in real life. I sometimes think that myself. In this picture, I use the models that I know, not just one man, but several. I paint one picture for all of them. Of course I could be more exact, could really let myself go and paint more than one picture. But I decide that since I am painting a picture of one man as such, I can get them all into one picture. I have total control over everything to do with this picture. I can make him hot or cold. He can be big or small, hairy or beary. I can place him wherever I like, lying in moss out east in August, for example. I could put him on a horseshoe desk on wheels. Put him on a sink on a train going across the mainland according to timetable. I could fling him onto a hotel bed wherever I like in the world. I could even time travel and put him in bed at home in the country back in the old days. That's where I first had an orgasm; it was cloudy, pink, the best. A woman needs a mirror to examine her genitals. Someone else can take on the role of the mirror, by taking a picture for example, by writing some text, or doing a painting. A man can hardly avoid seeing a large part of his genitals, because he handles them many times a day. But to examine his anus on the other hand, a man needs a mirror, just like me. Gustave Courbet took on the role of a mirror in 1866, and painted a picture of a woman. He called the picture "L'Origine du Monde". It is over a century since Courbet completed that picture, and I would like to thank him for his work.

1 The original title of this work "Ódur" has a variety of meanings. As a noun it means "ode", and also the sound made by sheep and lambs.
As a masculine adjective, it means "mad", "ecstatic", or "in ecstasy". The god's name Ódinn comes from the same root. He was the god of poetry and magic, and also became the masculine representative of the feminine branch of ecstatic, shamanistic magic known as "seidur".
2 The Icelandic word "sköpin" also means "fate", and in both senses is linked to the word "sköpun" meaning "creation", and the verb "skapa" meaning "create".
3 The Icelandic word "kriki" applies to both armpits and crotch.

Übersetzung aus dem Isländischen: Terry Gunnell