The old man sits at his boiling pot,
Eating boiled wood--even scalding hot.
He nods his head and hums a song
With his sages air, he could do no wrong.
He mutters words that no ones understood:
The sky dangles cobwebs, hence holes in wood.
His pate turns hot, his sweat falls and splatters;
He yells in rage, Who can plumb such matters?
Those blasted donkeys, completely blind,
Know nothing at all, keep changing their minds.
They don't know the basics: which wood has the best juice,
And why, on the moon's eleventh night, wood holes grow loose."
He scribbles his calculations on the ground:
Cracked wood, hollow wood--he writes numbers all around--
Which holes are tasty and which unwell,
What sort of fissure has what kind of smell.
One log against the other hell hit
And say, Every kind of wood I can outwit!
Ive handled wood and lumber and tree,
I know how to deal with their depravity.
Which wood turns tame, which wood has whims,
Which wood is wistful, and which full of vim.
Which wood cant tell whats good and whats best--
And I know why some wood has more holes than the rest.
© 2003 by Prasenjit Gupta
Translation Published March15, 2003
Prasenjit Gupta [Proshenjit Gupto
Prasenjit Gupta is a translator and writer living in Iowa City.