Babel is a village in Wales,
a village in Iran.
It’s an island in Tasmania
where they babble in Tasmanian,
where blue waters bubble to
the surface, gurgling like a baby growing
in the wilds of South Africa, refugee camps
in Lebanon, a traveling circus camped out
in a parking lot in Kansas City. Never
forget it’s a mountain in Quebec today,
it’s a biblical tower where people get high
on the sound of their own voices, and you,
the way you say you to me. The way you say Babel, Babel,
Babel, putting pressure here, releasing the tension there,
deep massage for letters, liking what you read, feeling
the words echoing out of your own mouth, your skin,
your own back yard. Language has never felt this close.
Copyright Joanna Chen 2014
Joanna Chen is a poet and literary translator. Her poetry, translations and essays have been published in Poet Lore, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Bakery, and Cactus Heart, among others. Joanna is co-moderator of ELTNA and guest poetry editor of The Ilanot Review. Find out what she really thinks at www.joannachen.com .