Forgetting is So Long

“… es tan largo el olvido (forgetting is so long).”

  • Pablo Neruda, ‘Tonight I Can Write” (1924)

An acquaintance knows Cantonese;

Once knew it like her Q’s and P’s.

Although it was her mother tongue,

Some she forgot since she was young.


She doesn’t now translate with ease.

For when she tries, her mind will seize.

Not only does blood pressure rise

(So much in fact it hits new highs),

But she finds her knees get weak

And a flush comes to her cheek.

She thinks, as she breaks into sweat,

‘Is more to come?’ She knows not yet.

She wonders what could be the matter.

Has she gone mad, like the Hatter?


It might behoove to translate less.

Translating less should bring less stress.


For trying to translate Cantonese -

Who knew it’d cause such things as these?