The Translator’s Dilemma
by Ann Lauterbach
To foretell an ordinary mission, with fewer words.
With fewer, more ordinary, words.
Words of one syllable, for example.
For example: step and sleeve.
These are two favorites, among many.
Many can be found if I look closely.
But even if I look closely, surely a word is not
necessarily here, in the foreground.
I see an edge of a paper, I see orange.
I see words and I see things. An old story,
nothing to foretell the ordinary mission.
I see “her winter” and I see
And even the Romans fear her by now.
Are these words in
translation or barriers to translation?
I see John and an open book, open to a day
in August. I am feeling defeated
among these sights, as if I will never find
either sleeve or step. These ordinary
pleasurable words, attached to
ordinary pleasurable things, as if
to find them is to say I am
announcing criteria. Step, sleeve,
you are invited to come up and be within
ordinary necessities. Staircase. Coat.