I spent this rainy afternoon working through a book I bought in Quebec City: a French translation of Japanese haiku by contemporary poet Mayuzumi Madoka. The book is arranged in four seasonal sections, with each haiku and its explication by the author on facing pages. I read through Spring and into Summer, fascinated by the nexus of several languages: the original Japanese, the French translation, my attempt to piece it together in English, and the universal poetic sensibility, which renders a good poem timeless in any language. It feels like a good exercise to play with words, image, and feelings in this way; I found myself longing for a retreat to submerge myself in this world for several days to see what might come out of it for my own poetry.
Here is my halting translation of one of her spring haiku:
This is a small town, but even here, living as we do across from a street light, we rarely get to fully appreciate the night sky in all its starry glory. So after dinner with friends who live on a farm out in the country, it was such a thrill to look up on the way to the car and enjoy such a wide, clear view of the night's stars.
Rural, farm-covered L'Ile D'Orleans in the St. Laurence River is the farm basket of Quebec. Strawberries are one of the specialties, with two seasons: summer and fall. After visiting L'Ile D'Orleans today, I checked out the permanent farmers' market near the Old Port Quebec, where I bought a cup of fresh strawberries and ate them on the spot. They tasted of summer, even as the season begins to turn to fall.