Once I got a postcrad from the Fiji Islands
with a picture of sugar cane harvest. Then I realized
that nothing at all is exotic in itself.
There is no difference between digging potatoes in
our Mutiku garden
ans sugar cane harvesting in Viti Levu.
Everything that is is very ordinary
or, rather, neither ordinary nor strange.
Far-off lands and foreign peoples are a dream,
a dreaming with open eyes
somebody does not wake from.
It’s the same with poetry–seen from afar
it’s something special, mysterious, festive.
No, poetry is even less
special than a sugar cane plantation or potatoe field.
Poetry is like sawdust coming from under the saw
or soft yellowish shavings from a plane.
Poetry is washing hands in the evening
or a clean handkerchief that my late aunt
never forgot to put in my pocket.
–Jaan Kaplinski, Estonia
translated by Riina Tamm, and Sam Hamill