Tuesday, June 04, 2002

The husband is on his way home from Barcelona now. At least, he's supposed to be. And his absence reminds me of my love and loathing of Barcelona, the city I have the strongest feelings for, and how when I lived there, without knowing the depth of it, I was desperately unhappy and uncertain and feeling loveless:

On the Apprehension of a Second Language in a Foreign City

Take a lover
who speaks no English,
they tell you,
you will learn Spanish
by the time
the affair is over.

In no time,
simple phrases, words,
come to you:
Egoistic verbs --
I have, I want,
I need... I am, I am;

Useful nouns --
what eyes! great sweater!
Modifiers --
most, very, better;
You sound like a child,
yet at least you make sense.

on the other hand,
is harder.
You often misunderstand,
when he is on the phone.

In the next room,
you lie in bed afraid
it is you
he meant when he said
cerda -- sow --
in the fiercest tone.

To the end,
adult conversation
eludes you,
done in by conjugation,
excepting the past imperfect.
can say, "I have gone."

Barcelona 1998
uh, and, while I'm at it, copyright 2002

Yes, yes, it's a little glib. Of course, the reality was that I had no lover, not even dates. One-night stands, yes, but no dates. That is, not until I met the husband in a club, Metro, at 3:30 a.m. on July 18. Interestingly enough, the misunderstandings and worry in the poem came purely from listening to my crazy flatmate yammering on the phone, I felt so shamefully and annoyingly dependent on his great kindness.

The Swedish word for the day is tillbacka. It means back again.

- by Francis S.

1 comment:

Chima said...

Somehow, this poem manages to represent how I have felt since I was very small; an American constantly being moved up and down the east-coast USA every few years...until the moment I met the love of my life in Stockholm a little over three years ago.

At that moment, even though her accent was thick enough I had trouble understanding her sometimes, I suddenly could speak without fear or worry or confusion, and finally understood the meaning of 'home'.