A translator who has a phobia of moths
spent three years translating a book with a moth motif.
It’s ironic, she has said, that she knew more about the moths
than the author of the original, who was merely fascinated.
The translation contained a greater variety of moths than the original,
drawn from suggestions she had made, some of which were in fact
too perfect and changed back before it went to print.
Her moths, the ones that were too aptly named,
meant too much, her moths that she hated, where are they now?
The same place as all the versions of people
that have been undressed and slept with, in lieu of the people
themselves, by others. That must include a version
of almost everyone, lots of versions of some people,
some only a flutter, animated then decided against.
I’ll go anywhere to leave you but come with me.
All the cities are like you anyway. Windows
darken when I get close enough to see.
Any place we want to stay’s polluted,
the good spots taken already by those
who ruin them. And restaurants we’d never find.
We’d rut a ditch by a river in nights
so long they must be cut by the many pairs
of wrong-handled scissors maybe god owns
and doesn’t share. I water god.
I make a haunted lake and rinse and rinse.
I take what I want, and have ever since what
I want disappeared, like anything hunted.
That’s what you said. Disappointment
isn’t tender, dried and wide instead.
The tourists snapped you crying,
and the blanket I brought was so dirty
it must have been lying around
in lice and blood that whole year we fought.
It wasn’t clear, so I forgot.
I haven’t been sleeping, next to you
twitching to bury my boring eyes.
The ship made you sad, and the ferry, and canoe.
All boats do.