Live things

Sketches in ink – 40

I got all excited today because I finished a little translation test of someone else’s short story. How utterly absorbing it was to delve into the web and the weft of the words woven by another. I read it out aloud to João after I had sent it off. She smiled in places, and that is what I had wanted to see, for she smiled in the same places as I had when I read the original. I do so hope the author does the same with my rendition.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I tried to make a little verse which will appear in a bigger volume I have already revised come to life. It was not entirely successful, and is subject to collaborative feedback from the translator, but it was fun to push the boundaries, and not unlike trying to trying to put a sweater on that really is a little too tight to contain one’s bust. This comes at the tail end of 77,000 words, and all understanding of this verse hung on one word, which had been mis-typed in the original – and an obscure, archaic Brazilian word at that. It is the kind of thing one has to ask about, after all other avenues have been exhausted.

The original verse was not at all like the live thing pictured above, discovered curled up but pulsating and wriggling in a hole at low tide on Wellington Point near Brisbane, Australia, when jet lag had me bereft of all but childlike wonder at the curiously bright and beautiful for which I had no name.

I dashed out the door after feeding João and I a mini-baguette each with cheese and herbs – and a spontaneous couple of swigs directly from the bottle of Licor Beirão in the kitchen cupboard to limber up the vocal chords, and arrived at choir practice shortly after 9 pm, mere seconds after everyone else had had their usual discussion about whether or not I was actually going to pitch up. No-one ever knows. How can they, if I don’t myself?

It was a happy time, which included a Negro spiritual as the last piece we practised: “I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the river side…” is the English, to which the lyrics of Portuguese version bear no resemblance, superficially, at least. A fitting end to a day which contained – as does any other, if you think about it, and if you want it – the hope of glory.

©2015, Allison Wright

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