Once I Got A Postcard From The Fiji Islands

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