The following are 3 poems, all titled “Housewife.” The first is the original poem I wrote. The second and third are poems I created by translating the original poem to Afrikaans and Xhosa and back to English again, and then editing what I got. This is part of a larger project I am working on where I have my work translated to Xhosa and Afrikaans, and edit the results. It is a fascinating way to create new poetry, and the possibilities from these two languages are almost limitless. I sometimes like to play with other languages, like French or Hebrew or Italian or Farsi, but Xhosa and Afrikaans are my favorite. What do these poems say to you? If you’re a housewife, or your mother was, how do these poems speak to your experiences with housewifery?
Grateful skirts swirl in a breeze maybe meant for them.
Design is Holy,
is enamored of its Designer,
is a crossroads of means and ends.
A housewife manufactures sunshine in her laboratory,
the beakers from the store always having a sale,
her thesis supervised by green,
and critiqued by her children.
After 20 years who will know whether the
skirts were mended or replaced?
Just that they were infused with laughter
and smelled like mother in the living room
living with her eyes full.
Translated into Afrikaans and Xhosa, then back:
Skirts twirl in the grateful air
they were meant for.
Design and the Holy Spirit,
of each other.
Is the intersection of the cross where it all begins?
The woman who produced the sun in her lab,
is studying all the ways you make happiness from the mundane.
Her thesis is green from watching her children.
After 20 years will you know that
the aprons can be repaired or replaced?
You will appreciate the humor.
skirts and gratitude for the atmosphere,
either of them.
Design and Holy Spirit,
make enamored designs,
are the ends on the cross.
The woman who makes the sun in her lab,
Her laboratory in Delaware furnished by a company
in Hong Kong.
Her thesis supervision is green.
So is the clock looking at her children’s energy,
After 20 years you will know that
the skirts can be repaired or replaced.
As you appreciate the humor in
And sort mothers by whether they baked cookies or used the microwave.
In her eyes you live fully,
live fully alone.