Found in Translation
The guys who run the corner store speak Arabic,
smiling as I dash in for milk and coffeepot filters
on a frosty Saturday morning, still wearing my slippers,
or grabbing a tamale, a fish taco for a late lunch
at the back counter, where the women speak Spanish.
The man five blocks closer to the highway,
who launders my shirts, always asking about my dog,
speaks Chinese, though never directly to me,
nor to the women in the storefront next door,
where Mom used to get a pedicure in Vietnamese.
The paperboy is a middle-aged man from Indonesia,
his old car belching fumes just as dawn breaks
along a quiet street, waking me every morning
with news of a world divided, like my neighborhood
divvied up by race and class and ethnicity-as-trade.
Learning to speak gratitude or an occasional please
with sounds I never heard or voiced as a child
crinkles my cheeks and wrinkles my chin,
adding fresh lines to the ones earned with laughing,
tears from losses running through canyons of joy.
These make a map from our faces.
The Beloved travels these shaded furrows,
undaunted by the cacophony of accents
carving creases of consternation into every brow,
simply relentless, tireless in the desire for home,
with us – all of us.
3 thoughts on “The Word in (Accented) Flesh”
Living the gift offered by the day of hope, love, peace, and care with each other making a map of happiness; thanks for such a wonderful thought and goal!
Thank you, Jay—this is wonderful! And speaks well to my apartment building mix of Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish and Bulgarian, with the Hispanic market adjacent to the Vietnamese nail parlor and across from the Iranians running the grocery across the street…
Merry Christmas, and a peaceful new year (as much as is possible in these times) to you!
Elizabeth Dee Gardner Creatingmama Studios
Beautiful. Thank you.