Faith: A Translation
Downtown Crossing in March: roses, tulips, daffodils in five gallon buckets, nestled in snow. The blonde selling them wears red gloves. Daffodils: two dollars for ten stems. Their slender heads closed as garter snakes, sable brushes. A girl— sixteen, Asian, confused—asks in slow, determined English about the daffodils. Who can blame her? Who would pay two dollars for fat grass gone tan and crisp at the tips? The blonde gathers red fingers —a shadow duck, a French chef’s gesture—to illustrate blossom, bloom. I help, buy daffodils, wonder if the girl is Japanese. I speak some Japanese, and I could say
Sono hana ga. . . that flower. . . have I ever learned bloom? That flower: Tokyo’s cherry blossoms, March. That flower now a baby, soon a woman. Now there are three women buying daffodils—did our florist plant this girl?—all of us gathered, daffodils in one hand, the other pantomiming bloom. The girl looks from the buckets to our faces, hands: daffodil, flower of madness, flower of mute enthusiasm. On the orange line, ten daffodils wrapped in my lap, the unerring Japanese in my head says Tomorrow, that flower will call out good morning.