Look at the landscape for ruins of the open
can. Beware the vermin whose goal dare dip in man’s sweet blossom tea
Bolder than a goat to overdose in blossom

Not you goat that wonder to water. The can in your lunchbox
Smitten to touch. Embolden that drop tin.
The wasteland along for a beating

Trek the terrain guided by your instinct
Halt at deep addition. Dampen your wonder for the flow of nature
Deep in this ‘hood should only be vermin


The Day 5 NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. Begin with a photograph. Now find a poem in a language you don’t know. Now start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” your photograph. Use the look and feel of the words in the original to guide you along as you write, while trying to describe your photograph. It will be a bit of a balancing act, but hopefully it will lead to new and beautiful (and possibly very weird) places.

This was an interesting challenge for me as I had originally hoped to write about an isolated mountain saddle above Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rockies. I stopped here alone last summer for a lunch break in the middle of a hike. It was peaceful and beautiful. As I unwrapped the lunch that I’d carried for ten miles I was greeted by a Pika who scampered nearby begging for bits. As I worked through the original poem it steered mine towards the pika and away from the breathtaking view before me.

Here is the poem in a foreign language (my guess is that it’s German.)

Das Boot 4

Ook in een landschap dat te ruim is of te open
kan je verzuipen, zoals de man weet die diep in een bos
ten onder gaat aan een overdosis bomen.

Net zo gaat het onder water: je kan in een luchtbel
zitten en toch voelen hoe de druppels
weifelend je longen betasten.

Trek je terug in je gedachten als in een instinct.
Haal er diep adem. Dompel je onder in flarden natuur.
Diep in je hoofd schuilt de ongerepte variant.

Here is the translation. I did not read this until my poem was written.

Also in a landscape that’s too wide or too open
you might drown, like the man knows who deep in the woods
succumbs to an overdose of trees.

The same applies to the underwater: you can be in an air pocket
and still sense the droplets
hesitantly feeling out your lungs.

Retreat into your thoughts as if into an instinct.
Take a deep breath there. Submerge yourself in scraps of nature.
Lying hidden deep inside your head the untouched variant.

It’s interesting that the original poem could have stood alone to describe the feelings I wanted to share about the first photo.  Somehow in my translation the pika insisted on being seen.

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