Ars Poetica with Poppies and Birds
You might think
that’s how translation works:
you start with poppies
and end up with birds.
Or you start with birds
and end up with poppies.
You might feel
that night after night
your book dreams itself into being.
One day, the book says
it wants to be painted -
The next day, the book claims
to be a garden.
If you disagree
it will sulk.
Soon it will make new demands on you:
‘Bring me some golden poppies
from California,’ it says.
And then: ‘I want to see
those rare white poppies from the Alps -
some might even be pale yellow.
I’ve heard they’re as rare as a white tiger.
Go, have a look,’ it says.
Just when you think you have what it needs
the book will say, ‘Now I want you to find
the rarest of the rare,
the most difficult to grow -
a blue poppy from the Himalayas.
Go on,’ it will urge you.
By now you might have guessed:
the book simply wants you to go away
so it can become a garden for birds.