Tuesday Poetry: Jon Pineda’s “Translation”



By Jon Pineda

We thought nothing of it, he says,
though some came so close to where we slept.
I try to see him as a boy,
back in the Philippines, waking

to the sound of machine guns.
His family would spend their morning

spreading a paste over the sores
of the house’s thick walls.

He tells how he touched
points where bullets entered,

his fingers, he says, disappeared into the holes,

as if inside there existed a space
where everything from this world could vanish.

Here we could place the memory of my sister,
his daughter, who died after a car wreck.

Wedge her into the smoky path
& cover her in sunlight.

The family next door is raking leaves in the yard.

A father scolds his children for jumping
into large piles he arranged into a crescent moon.

We cannot hear them from inside,
but I feel they are frightened as he grabs both of them
around the waist & spins.

I wait for the ending to my father’s story,
but he is too busy smiling, as if enjoying the silence

of bullets frozen there in his mind.

Jon Pineda, “Translation,” from Birthmark (Carbondale, IL: Crab Orchard Review & Southern Illinois University Press, 2004).

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