Lost In Translation

By Amara Tasnim


There’s a dead language between my lips, tucked behind my teeth.

I chew on the vowels, the syntaxes, the alliteration

Before I volley it across from me

—It falls at my feet.

Staring back at me are eyes hardened by endless toil,

A grave face of lines etched from working two jobs

And a back like Atlas, burdened by bills.


We speak on different radio frequencies,

Lost in translation, the dial always a notch off.

She in a mother tongue my mouth feels foreign to form,

And I, an anachronism of split cultures; a displacement of land.

The marvels of my archaic words, my preserved discretions

Are lost in the wind, lying limp on the concrete.


There’s a dead language between my lips,

I dug it out from underground,

Like a forgotten artifact, I dust it off and adorned it.

And the people around me looked at me funny;

Tilted their heads and furrowed their brows

And no Rosetta Stone could decode my meaning.


Is this how Sappho feels? Her lyrics so delicately crafted

But erased by time and weathered by history,

The articulations of her heavy heart’s yearning,

Of her discreet desires, decayed by the will of eternity.

And all that is left is a fragment of two,

A glimpse into the dead language she spoke.

And we will never know the gravity of what she truly wrote.