“Translation” by Dierdre O’Connor

“Translation” by Dierdre O’Connor
(from Poetry, September 2001)

Though there’s no such thing as a “self,” I missed it—
the fiction of it and how I felt believing in it mildly
like a book an old love sent with an inscription
in his hand, whatever it meant,
After such knowledge, what forgiveness . . .

—the script of it like the way my self felt
learning German words by chance—Mitgefühl,
Unheimlichkeit—and the trailing off that happened
because I knew only the feelings, abstract
and international, like ghosts or connotations
lacking a grammar, a place to go:

this was the way my self felt when it started
falling apart:  each piece of it clipped
from a garden vaguely remembered
by somebody unrecognizable—
such a strange bouquet that somebody sent
to nobody else, a syntax of blossoms.

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