The class hates when in one translation blue night ends in a lily,
and in the other a man goes into a bodega.
Their suffering is great when faced with no correct translation.
A few hundred Venn diagrams overlapping
nowhere. Always a piece seems missing.
Back in the times of silent trades
if two peoples did not speak a common language
one party left goods in a grassy area, the other waited, got closer, felt
how heavy the salt or beef was,
or picked the tool they needed, left pieces of gold.
Students start to translate: Some argue the plums
in a poem should be plush, others fresh.
In a poem, one thing is meant but that thing
is meant by the totality of all language,
the pure language that no one speaks.
So we are left with a goose flying overhead,
But in place of its shadow,
a mallard swims.
© Cynthia Arrieu-King