When the Translator Disappears, the Translation Withers and Dies

by Bill Yarrow

The kid­nap­ping of the trans­la­tor
made big news for a short time
but then the gen­eral incom­pre­hen­si­bil­ity
of things resumed and every­one,
except Lor­raine, went back to work.
Lor­raine refused to extend the futil­ity
of human communication—what was
the point? she wanted to know. What
was the point of speak­ing if, now that
the trans­la­tor had been kid­napped,
no one (no one!) could deci­pher what she
or any­one else had to say? Lor­raine could
not fathom how peo­ple could return to work.
How was work even pos­si­ble? she won­dered.
An iron silence began to oppress her as she
slept. It crept into her body and she felt her­self
inca­pable of rais­ing her arms in greet­ing or to
ward off a blow. She sank deep into bit­ter­ness,
dread­ing the dawn and the sight of neigh­bors
egre­gious in their pre­tense of mean­ing­ful speech.
She pined for the return of the trans­la­tor who
became mes­sianic in her eyes. Her dreams became
denuded of images, infused only with two lines
of unvary­ing dia­logue. “Come back to me.” “Can't.
Can't you see I've never left?” It was the trans­la­tor
speak­ing. He was hold­ing her in his arms. He was
look­ing at her with the ten­der­ness she so ter­ri­bly
craved. She felt, sud­denly, as if for the first time,
under­stood. And she under­stood per­fectly, per­fectly,
the repressed caress of words that poured from his mouth.