Reilly Cox | Silence of the Lambs: A Matter of Height
TRANSLATION IN PARIS By John Freeman
There are no editors in the café
called Les Éditeurs. There’s not
a single novelist in the Saint-
Germain store gilded by novels.
There are no beasts of the chase
paddocked in the park, but that’s what
the West Germanic word—parruk—meant.
It took the overrunning of London
by its immigrant population in 1680
to turn the word into the spot we’d
park humans, so they could stumble
around in bewilderment at how time
is translation, change is nature’s rime.
A poem can’t tell you what it’s like to be 83 and seven hours deep into a Christmas Eve shift at Walmart, cajoling beeps from objects like the secret name each of us will never be sweetly called, can’t show you her face and eyes like the night sky, or the white-haired man wearing reindeer horns, mumbling into his collar’s static-y radio-gadget; a poem can only mention her eyes, shocking blue, like desert pools, the red & white of her Santa hat, or take note of the little carts carrying each beached customer to the doom of their product; but a poem can place thiscurse upon the Waltons: that they be given her job manning the conveyer as it rattles its barren Torah through miles of product, or be given a list of every item they sell, and be made to wander like Israelites back and forth through their endless stores until they find them, until their heads and toes grow lighter, and Christmas music lifts and carries them & lifts and carries them, like each one is a burst suitcase of money blizzarding open.
December 2019 Poetry Feature: New Poems for the Holiday Season