Thoughts on a Translation
Now listen, you watermelons –
if any thieves come,
turn into frogs.
Issa taught his melons
the art of masquerade
and applauded warty carnivores
chasing poachers away.
Would you rather be a watermelon
with its pink flesh cannibalized
or a frog splaying buttered legs
on a gold-trimmed plate?
A poet translates Issa’s name:
a single bubble in steeping tea.
I prefer a single frog in a melon patch.
All I know of Issa: a few haiku and Googled facts.
Of watermelons: the etiquette of a silver spoon
scooping fruit, holding slipped-out pits.
Of frogs: quarter-sizes croak above nighthawks,
Beelzebufos ate hatchling dinosaurs.
It’s discomforting to think
I could slip off this lifetime’s
watery pink for a green body
that listens with its mouth.
As kids, we learned to love neighbors
who looked like ourselves. How boring:
fields where melons look alike
and frogs sing the same refrain.
There’s no shortage of imaginary frogs
in real gardens or of bubbles in steeping tea.
In the redundancy of dawn, frogs sleep.
Poetry glides through fields,
poaching the silence of watermelons.
An ancient painter warned a shoemaker
to stick to his soles and not pretend
expertise about things he does not know.
Not prone to take advice, I’ll cobble
a poem about an inept thief who dreams
of stealing melons from a frog-filled pond.
About the writer:
From Assistant Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK. Her third collection, Thin Places, was published by Kelsay Books in 2017 and her fourth, A Penchant for Masquerades, is scheduled for a 2019 release by Unsolicited Press. Carolyn is currently the poetry editor for the Kosmos Quarterly.