Friday, 2 September 2016

Harbour - Maung Chaw Nwe

They will land here.
A tree or two or three.
A ship or two or three.
Sceneries will land.
Fortuities will land.
Towns and villages will land.
The seasons in a Martin shirt will land.
The Gold Tooth and The Perfume
Will land, intoxicated.
The moonshiner who has managed
To sell his hooch for thirty years
Without releasing any smell will also land.
The ship wearing the smile of a Honda engine,
The Thugataw,
Who reads every sign as a good omen, will also land.
The meddlesome ship
Who is meddling with some ship paints will also land.
Will arrive . . .
Will come closer . . .
Will close in on . . .
Will depart . . .
The way the ships arrive like the Big Bang
Has petrified the universe itself.
Just now, just like papayas on a tree
Many ships have landed at the coffee table in the café.
The moustache ship who often says,
“I have insomnia,” has left first
With a parcel of takeaway tea in his hand.
A young ship in Oslo jeans,
Chasing the mini-market of a girl,
Has departed without cargo or passengers.
Day in, day out
The sloppy ship
Has been bragging about
Hotel food, international currencies, condominiums and cars
(He has none of these, only his own ignorance).
Has been dropping his anchors raucously.
The messy painter
Who uses messy ship paints
And blunders messily
Has shored up with a smug smile
Right beneath the papaya tree.
Next enters the car-salesman ship,
Who has managed to pass seventh grade.
A cheap golden pen dangling in his pocket,
“I will sell the world,” he says.
Also, the gossip ship reiterating, “I am good,
Others are bad.”
All his life he has arrived
On schedule at the right berth.
Once,
The harbour café was fermented into wine
As a ship overloaded with bombfish,
With mosquito larvae,
(Isn’t the world in fact overloaded with mosquito larvae?)
A pugnacious ship and another ship, the son of a town dignitary,
Got into a quarrel.
Once
A ship carried a mountain
As if it were his birthday cake,
And another ship slung a river over his shoulder,
As if it were a sling bag.
These two became instant pals.
At the midnight table
They have swapped the mountain for the river,
The Irrawaddy for Mount Poppa.
They have turned the tables
At the Polar Café
Into a harbour.

Maung Chaw Nwe (1949 - 2002) Myanmar
Translated by ko ko thett and James Byrne
Source: Poetry International

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