By Thomas Page

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.

During one of the scored years in school

I was required to take a mathematics course

“for liberal arts majors”

Consisting of life skills deemed necessary by the Department of Mathematics.

These were how to cheat your way into more money


By using the same logic that built the Pyramids and held the Parthenon together

For the dreamy reverie of the Romantics contemplating dunes and empires.

One of the lessons was on dividing cakes equally.

What you’re supposed to is cut a piece and hand it to your neighbor

And they would examine it to see if it was an equal piece to the group

If it wasn’t equal, they would take a knife and slice off a sliver until it was

And then they would pass it on and so on

And repeat with the next slice.

The textbook had a picture of three men straight from the Manhattan Project

The nuclear trinity

With the turmoil of stockpiles in their eyes holding eviscerated pieces of yellow cake

The writing smeared and staining their cuffs

With the deadpan smile of something finally being done

But not yet complete

Unknown to the photographer celebrating this milestone.

“Congrats to your explosive success!”

I’m sure it said.


Language: Swedish

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