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...in the face of a gaping hole in Australian literary criticism, I will end with a description of my fantasy academic hardback with silver lettering.  >

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Translating a ‘Prolog’

Jean Kent

Poetry by Jean Kent

for Rolf Hermann



In the spring sunshine, under wisteria through the ironbark—
a sky of emphatic blue above, all around me
a bath of light—


While the tortoiseshell cat is sleeping, wound into a spiral
(on its wrought-iron seat) of caramel, charcoal
and lime-white—


I’m trying to translate a German poem. Earlier the cat
sat on the dictionary. All English translations
of vertrauen—‘to trust’? ‘have confidence in’?—


disappeared under sunwarmed fur. Now she’s confident
she’s my mistress again, the purring bundle
settles in her own space—


leaves me to the foreign words in my hands.
Distracted, I hear a crackling under loquat leaves—breaking sounds
below all that my trees have shrugged off
in the last half year—


I wasn’t here to rake them clear, and now the leaves
hide, then slowly release, a lizard that looks
like a sundappled creek—


a patient flow across the path, its flick of tongue
a lick of blue, in and out
of the light.


The reptile slides under another blanket of leaves
on a garden bed. The cat still sleeps.
From a forest of German


a snail in a cape of rain begins to wake.
On a book’s bright field, oak leaves and acorns
scatter …


The blue-tongue lizard when it blinks in the open again
is under the cat’s dreaming chair.
Sunlight aspics them


one above the other, both oblivious, peculiar
as translations, shy gestures
towards another place.



©Jean Kent

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