Untranslatable Word

by Angela Hoffman

I came across a list of untranslatable words. 
One that caught my eye was, litost, a Czech word meaning  
a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery. 
On the surface of the river, the duck seems to glide peacefully 
but below, its legs are paddling furiously. 
That sudden panic when we look below the surface and see  
how close we are to drowning 
how exhausted we are from treading, going against the flow. 
We see our legs all wrapped, tangled in weeds.  
It’s murky, dark. Unrecognizable things swim by.  
It is easy to give in, give up, be taken under.  
But we are not ducks. We can flip onto our backs 
allow the river to carry us.  
Perhaps the closest translation would be the word, grace. 

Angela Hoffman lives in Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Museletter and calendar, and Your Daily Poem.com.She committed to writing a poem a day during the first two years of the pandemic. Angela’s interests in spirituality and personal growth inspire her poetry. 

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