Translation depends, not on what must be included, but on what must not be left out

after Idra Novey

You enter the country next door from under the stone
Church of the Redeemer

subway exit. No Pork Chinese Restaurant
and Mr. Chicken, flank the avenue

both strictly halal.
The immigrant stories conclude happily

thus far: love at first sight ends
in marriage. The NGO administrator

can finally quit the dead-
end job and be a stay-at-home mom, lobbying

to remove the ice-cream truck from the park.

The baby sons resemble their mothers
or else their paternal grandfathers. Slender men in bright shirts

lean against shiny, long black sedans, smoking
cigarettes. It is both the spawning grounds

and the death place of fiction.
The little ones learn to become miniature

predators themselves, until they encounter others
of their own kind. An aggregation

is called a school.
Visitors must check their own children

at baggage claim;
are either conveniently

or conspicuously

depending on their income level.
The average rainfall is silver

and distributed equally throughout the seasons.
What the bible really says

instructors stand in neat skirts beside their docile placards,
waiting for you to ask them to dance.

There is no binary opposition—identity is where and what time
you stand to put your make-up on,

relative to the points of time in space
of those around you,

their handfuls of brightly colored plastic,
their recession so slow you don’t no

tice it at first. Polyphony is certainly possible, too,
indeed, it is the preferred

method of communication, for the birds
are sky-bound at present.

The inhabitants are friendly and curious, and the military
carry their cameras carelessly,

with the safeties off and the barrels
aimed haphazardly.

(To return to the Summer 2013 Table of Contents, click here.)

Marcela Sulak is the author of two collections of poetry, Immigrant and Of all the things that don’t exist, I love you best. She has translated three collections of poetry from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Hapsburg Bohemia. Her grandparents immigrated to Texas from Moravia, and she immigrated to Israel with her daughter to direct the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University.

Source Citation

Sulak, Marcela. Translation depends, not on what must be included, but on what must not be left out. Tikkun 28(3): 71.

tags: Culture, Poetry   
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