Anytime you translate, a little part of you goes into someone else’s creation.
That’s just the way it is. It’s like seeing faces in a plank of wood. Your eye catches the eyes, the set of a mouth, shape of a head in a plank laid by an erstwhile carpenter.
Sometimes you wish you didn’t see these faces. You can’t help it.
It’s part of your shape too,
the way you look at the world,
and the way the world looks at you.
So even though you don’t speak Tungesa, and even your spellcheck wants to auto correct and turn it into something that trades more in its orbit, limited as it is . . . you find the Original Portable Tungesa Dictionary in an antique store on Main, one that’s never open, but happens to be today, though you are the only one inside, with a basket that says please leave a contribution, we’re trying out the honor system today .
And you think, it’ll be my honor.
You only have a twenty, and there is no change. Briefly you consider leaving nothing, or just a note expressing your thanks, knowing there was a time when you would have done just that, or worse . . . you would have walked out with the book, and whatever else you could carry, whether you needed it or not, especially if you needed it not. Because need wasn’t part of it. Well, maybe a small part. But need had little to do with the object you stole. Need ran deeper then, though then you didn’t budget for such thoughts.
Then was a long time ago. You were a person you barely remember now - like hearing an echo that you started way back when- finally come booming back
around, bouncing off the walls of a deep canyon in a voice you don’t understand,
But a face is there, sealed in your head as if from a picture, and so you leave the twenty and walk out with the Original Portable Tungesa Dictionary under your arm.
You return home, and study the poem of markings on a yellow page, and you open the dictionary to search for the meaning of each stroke.
And you discover it’s a poem written by a hunter who has given up the hunt, given up all weapons, given up even the desire to hunt, but not the desire to discover . . .
And at the bottom of the page in script faintly familiar, you recognize two letters.