Travelling Phrases

Greece
 

I

My lexicon says the word for "contractor"
Can also mean "a beau" and "a kind of macaroon."
So too the word for "an undeserved fine or loss"
Spreads to "a lazy man" and "a vicious horse."
Always easy to browse the curiosities
In someone else's language.

II

In Santorini, the address is "156 steps."
We lose count, but add up on the third try.
In Wuhan, our taxi driver wanders
Between an address (in characters)
And a grid marked on an English map,
Few signs that might bisect our languages.
Perhaps no different from the boy in Merigomish
Who tells us to turn right at the corner
Where Harry's store used to be.

III

Must have been some Inkshedder
Bouncing over ranch country (Mary Louise?)
Who constructed this translation
For the sign in our hotel:
"No use of appliances in rooms,
Such as irony or cattles."

IV

There is no generic word for "blue,"
Distinctions are necessary.
But the words for "much" and "too much"
Are the same. Extravagance is expected.

-- Kenna Manos


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