On a Paper Napkin

In its translation, this poem does not rhyme,

Nor do its lines possess much of a metre,

And yet its lilt has something of the chatter

To be heard around the overpriced café

Where its translator likes to spend his time

Discoursing to the waitress on the way

He matches sentiment to syllable

To convey the tang of the original.


‘Ah! It must be wonderful to have such skill

In another’s language that one can translate

Its poetry to ours and not to wait

On tables’, says the waitress with a laugh

So fetching he might overlook the spill

Of wine between his glass and her carafe.