By Catherine Keefe
“…far to the edge of desolation
suspicious of any poetry
even to exchange a hello…”
from “writing you” by Taufik Ikram Jamil
Translated from Indonesian by John H. McGlynn
In the distance, on the Bell Canyon Trail, are Santiago and Mojeska peaks. In the distance
of one week’s time two classrooms full of students will look up at me as if
I have something to teach them. In the distance of ancient geology I see
where oceans once covered this land, have now receded. In the distance
of imagination lies my chance to reseed hope, to teach how we might learn
to stop and listen to one another’s stories of our time together on this earth,
a blip. In the distance I see all of us working together as if we are not
each other’s enemy, but all the killing is. In the distance I see lands
without borders between
what it means to be human.
Ideas already freely cross borders. One of my favorite carefully curated online sites for international literature in translation is Words Without Borders, where I found the poem that contains the excerpt which opens this post. I’ll close with the last stanza of the poem
excerpt from “writing you” by Taufik Ikram Jamil
my palm resigned to resting
on desire still hopeful
can you only be felt
while taste is the experience of each of us
until you possess a range of understanding
untraceable by any and all senses
with no time limit however brief
then you intentionally slip longing
on each breeze converging
to then pit melancholy ’gainst action
time booked time and time again
Read something in translation today. You can read all of “writing you” by Taufik Ikram Jamil by clicking the hyperlink.
Say hello to someone you don’t know.
In the distance I see us together. What do you see?
For more “In the distance” images, check out The August Break, 2015, a community challenge to “Live inside each moment,” by checking out the more than 16,000 #augustbreak2015 posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr.