Cries in Translation
I’m remembering that day in Capitola
when the Mexican man in street clothes
ran into the water shouting, having
never before seen the sea. The ocean
really, the Pacific, the largest body
of water on earth.
His cries, that shocked us at first–
we thought he’d been distraught, perhaps
assaulted by some horror or grief–
were soon revealed to be those of joy,
inarticulate joy, “unbridled,” indeed,
as they rose up to join in with the songs
the gulls were singing, songs that might well
have been joyous, too, although I think of them
always as sorrowful, as though they were
laments for the dearly departed; each gull
an angel watching over some soul
lost at sea.
His childlike antics began to wane after a while,
those of this man revelling there, at the edge
of the sea, gaping and gasping before it.
This man whose cries were neither English
nor Spanish. Were they really inarticulate?
His cries that answered the gulls’ despair.
Were they not, in fact, clearer than these
lines cast back to that day at the beach,
that undoubtedly sun-washed day
no kodak could’ve caught.
Lines harking back that wild moment
by the shore, where we sat
on our promenade bench, gaping at
the spectacle, beholding this man’s
uncontained wonder, before we made our way
back into town, wondering about this migrant
worker’s life, trying to recall seeing the ocean
for the first time, ourselves, as children on vacation.