The Day We Translated Catullus 8 in Mr Nemesh’s Latin Class
by David Koehn

Lily, there were crows in the field. I remember.

Lily lived next door, let me drive her IROC Z Camaro to the prom.

Lily told me my mother told her she would never have quit smoking if my father hadn’t insisted.

Lily told me about Luckys she would share with my mother. On

Lily’s back porch, eating pie, chocolate cream,

Lily told me she didn’t love her husband, Ron. Sometimes after school, leaving the slightly unkempt Catholic school boys behind, I walked a row of cornfield to

Lily’s door.

Lily, there were crows in the field. I remember.

Lily’s house, other than the lacquer of cigarettes and tanning oil, mirrored ours. I secretly thought of her, invited her to me, reposed in

Lily’s smoke. I caught my mother kissing

Lily, the day we read Catullus 8 in Latin class.

Lily, there were crows in the field. I remember.

Lily, no spectrogram can detect the call of human grief from a crow’s mimicry

And cannot see in a face the difference between pleasure and dismay.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 2.

David-KoehnDavid Koehn’s first full length manuscript, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. David’s poetry and translations were previously collected in two chapbooks, Tunic, (speCt! books 2013) a small collection of some of my translations of Catullus, and Coil (University of Alaska, 1998), winner of the Midnight Sun Chapbook Contest.

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