Knowing from what language I was translated
Would be of some use, I think. It is obvious
I am not the original; words from different eras
Jangle against each other in sentences which
May be disconcertingly short or instead,
Gasping for air, straggle on interminably.
Then there are my obscure references;
Did I really mean to compare the sun’s course
To a broken-backed snake? If so, why?
Was I thinking of Alexander Pope’s
The Art of Sinking in Poetry? Again, why?
If nothing else, the inept use of idiom
And the embarrassing attempts at modern slang
Make it all too clear that much has been lost
And replaced by the first thing the translator
Found to hand – broken bits of glass,
Poorly-stuffed animals, memories of a girl
He meant to talk to in 1974.
At times I wonder
If there was an original or if – it happens –
I was born in translation.