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About this poet

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of two poetry collections, including, her most recent, The Wug Test (Ecco Press, 2016). She is the editor of Circumference Books, a press for poetry in translation, and lives in Berlin, Germany.

On Translation: Celia Dropkin’s “My Hands” (Yiddish)

She had emigrated to New York when she wrote my hands, and I was in New York again again looking at my hands when I typed my hands. She wrote two little bits of my body on the next line. She had children at this point. I typed the words in English on the next line and didn’t have the boy and then did and brought two little bits up to the first line with my hands. In her time, ideas sat on different lines, but in mine—living against being shown where to rest. Is that me now or now? I decided now. 

*

She wrote that hands are two little bits of my body I’m not ashamed to show, and I said that and then said I’m never ashamed to show. Does not mean never? No. Yes. Never makes the positive of the negative happen. I change my changes using the following excuses: I’m more like her now. I’m more like me now. I’m now, and she was explosively then. 

*


She wrote my hands with fingers, like the branches of coral, and I typed that and then later typed With fingers—the branches of coral and went on shaving off the markers of distance to close the thoughts in me. I used to try to hide my strange hands, but now I want to touch everything I can.

*

She wanted to touch some things she probably shouldn’t have. She wrote a word that was impossible to find in any Yiddish dictionary, but was found in a French one. Fingers were like the thoughts of blank question mark are now the thoughts of a nymphomaniac. She reached and reached outside of her tongue so her hands could reach away from her life in words. I typed nymphomaniac as myself and then again as myself as her and met her there reaching toward her hands.

*

My Hands 

My hands, two little bits
of my body I'm never
ashamed to show. With fingers—
the branches of coral,
fingers—two nests
of white serpents,
fingers—the thoughts
of a nymphomaniac.

From The Wug Test (Ecco, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Kronovet. Used with the permission of the author.

From The Wug Test (Ecco, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Kronovet. Used with the permission of the author.

Jennifer Kronovet

Jennifer Kronovet

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of two poetry collections, including, her most recent, The Wug Test (Ecco Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem
Each issue of Blade magazine describes a man and how he came to be a person of knives. There are veins of metal in rock and in a family and in one person’s diorama. Some is mined for weaponry, some for language. Some knives are photographed like ladies in a nudie magazine,
poem
Twigs collect 
by the side of the path.

Wild flowers space 
themselves. Pigeons 

respond instantly to being 
chased. The ground rises

to the tree. If I look 
through the boy—to loss, 

to a future, to else—
nothing is enough 

to hold the ground 
into one place. 

This is your foot,
I say. But people
poem
He has thoughts he doesn’t
think about. Birds might wake him
but they don’t. My thoughts 
feel like speech—how one animal 
makes nature—until I speak to him.
We use words like a tree uses light: 
there is a process we don’t see but do.

A kid I don’t know hits another
I don’t know. I say stop stop