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A Dozen Morning Translations

When I talk, again, about Voyager 1
out there beyond the heliosphere,
what I really mean is that
none of us recalls the birth canal.

And when I show you this photo
of my favourite painting, made in Paris
with palette knives in 1954, I’m giving you
my boyhood’s village springs.

Every novelist’s demilitarized zone
wants a good coconut beach.

The robins eating winter sumac mean
the oceans are deeper than we think.

So when I tell you the ladder’s too short
to clean out the eavestroughs,
what I’m really saying is that
the ladder’s too damned short
to clean out the stupid eavestroughs.

What I’m really saying is that bankers
still scavenge everybody’s breadcrumbs.

The baseball at the height of its arc
in the outfield by the ears
of corn is every lost October leaf pile.

The bookmarks strewn across
our desktops mean we’ve forgotten
our grandmothers’ birthdays;

and our once-read grad-school
textbooks will never be
the last ship out of Saigon.

Let’s re-focus our blue-box cylinders;
there are still, right here, green points
in our gardens, pushing up
against three inches of April ice.

The chorus in your favourite song
is next year’s coiled calendar.

So, when I tell you, again,
about Voyager 1 shutting down
its systems, measuring
interstellar gamma rays,
what I really mean is that
none of our kids
can ever be shielded
from even a single solar flare.



Rob Winger‘s most recent book, It Doesn’t Matter What We Meant, is forthcoming in the spring of 2021. He’s also the author of three previous collections, including Muybridge’s Horse, a Globe and Mail Best Book, CBC Literary Award winner, and finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and Ottawa Book Award. He lives in the hills northeast of Toronto, where he teaches at Trent University.

This poem can be found in It Doesn’t Matter What We Meant, which can be purchased here.

Image: Kristal Davis

This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 17:2. To view other content published in this issue, Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.