I broke my rule yesterday. I looked at the prompt today and felt similarly rebellious. The challenge is to take a poem in a language you don’t know and see what you can make of the words to do a translation that is not a translation. I did have a bash at it, but felt very flat and uninspired. The resource they offer includes translations into English, so there is a temptation to peek. That feels like a cheat. Nor can I get my head around rhyming nonsense verse this morning. Which might be one way of tackling the challenge. So I took my poetry practice today on my own merry way again this morning. Maybe there is something rebellious in the air. I am feeling all wayward this week. I did, however, stick to the theme.
Sitting in the classroom
with my two-way dictionary,
I still can smell stale fumes-
chalk dust, adolescent bodies -
hear the sing-song droning
of foreign vocabulary,
verbs that are transitive,
No one knows anyone
speaking this way everyday.
It's like ancient Greek,
or snatched ancestral language.
Who can match sounds of lost voices
long in graves to words on this page?
The sounds of lost voices with words
How much is lost? How much is gained?
We seek new connections
in words on a page gone two ways.
Of walking in the world
that can be both. Of course,
in translation we hear
a new conversation.
Body spray overlaying sweat
of curious adolescent.
Do ancestors clap, stamp,
dance at this new version?
Some will. Some won't. You can be both.
Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.