Fundamental Problem of Translation in 2006
Cars still knuckle-drag the road.
My bike slips sideways. The heron
doesn’t blink its yellow eye, shiver.
The prepared piano rain plinks
across the field between us.
It’s probably hunting gophers.
Long grey feathers lift out
from neck and breast, kids’ arms
so weary with effort
they rise without it.
Peter Cole cuts up in my headphones,
Tahaa Muhammad Ali’s anxiety to read
Abdul Jadi Fights a Superpower, lubna
is a white cheese made with yogurt,
and I am lost. The heron thinks—
but I don’t understand,
any more than I can make flint and steel
from this Arabic. Translation:
find what you need,
give it away.
But in the rain, I blend the two:
the heron offers me the gofer, staring
the distance back through my binoculars.
Wisdom is here and there. Its heat
makes wet cuts into landscape,
following the simplest recursive rule,
to move downhill, follow fathers’ choices,
no thought of ocean.
A truck of frozen food
whips my raingear around me.
In my silence, it gulps the gopher down.
Sunbreak, it looks worn to a dirty grey,
given day after day of gophers, binoculars,
of our pretty pornography.
The Community Garden Beneath the Powerlines Speaks
It’s time, this time, this time,
every cherry tulip chiming
climbing vine. Petals, hedges
and nest edges with one dream
of lasered wedges and the light that cuts
will finally power down.
How sunlight cottons dresses—folded here
buttoned there, lifts them up &up &out as wind
sighs near. And the quarry’s covered over
in a sea of cherry snow for now
the train outwings the perchbird
o’er I-5. This same sky was dark
for months, while our children
called us cunts and they slowly
pulled apart our rubbered bones.
You dreamed up some bugless farms,
treeless hillsides, robot arms, and
the silted salmon foundered far from sound.
But with Spring we feel re-wound,
and with ease release, with pleasure
as the younglings cuddle up
beneath our ribs.
These alarms that we’ve long heard
are now taken up by birds
and by summer we stay up
Oh, the rivers we’ve dug under
curve and weep, the insects thunder
no small wonder no small wonder
no small wonder.
Christopher Crew is a teacher, father and (extremely) amateur ping pong player. His poetry has appeared in The Sycamore Review, The Marlboro Review, Natural Bridge and Seattle’s Poetry on Buses. His work is forthcoming in Poplorish, Otoliths, mush/mum, of/with, and After the Pause. He is able to match a song to most any activity a two-year-old can dream up.