The Untranslatable

This is a series of poems of words that do not directly translate into English. I have tried to capture the essence of the word in a poem


By Thomas Page

We used to have a word for the day after tomorrow.

It was “overmorrow”

Like the sun is over there

Hiding from us because it knows what we did

But that faded away like the conjugations and the kennings.

I sat in an English class when I was in grad school wishing it was overmorrow

Because many of my peers’ questions lingered on the past.

I slowly died inside with each one.

In the time it took to go over the alphabet

I could have saved a kingdom and married royalty.

In the time it took to go over the sounds

I could have run for president, served two terms, and opened a library.

In the time it took to distinguish between front and back vowels

I could have built a rocket, gone to Pluto, farmed Plutonian potatoes, brought them home, and opened a Plutonian potato chip factory.

In the time it took to review French’s influence on English

I could have learned French, read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, translated it back into English, write a screenplay, direct a series of movie, win both Golden Globes and Academy Awards and provided Director’s Commentary in English and in French and still had time to make the madeleines and the tea myself.


Language of Origin: German

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