Cómo Se Dice

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


question mark
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Mariela Flores ’23

Today my Spanish was more broken than my English.
The words did not fit in my mouth.
Between every attempt was the phrase cómo se dice.  

The two oceans inside me clashed,
two lives being forced to merge into one coexisting life form.
My palms were sweaty as the round vowels of the language I love began to slip
in between the gap in my front teeth, and I could not bite down fast enough.   

The words felt heavy,
sitting in the back of my throat, begging to be let out,
I just could not remember how.  

It was betrayal.
My tongue was left bruised.
Beaten time and time again with consonants that are too loud.
I had spent so many years whipping it into shape
using words to mask the slight lilt of an accent. 

English was supposed to be my savior.
Instead, like any colonizer, it set up camp and did not leave.
It took things from me I did not realize I had to miss. 

There are cracks in my Spanish I am desperate to fill,
so I write songs with the first words I ever heard.
I paint with the colors I see when my mother sings her favorite songs,
and I laugh with the same laugh my father has when he makes a joke.  

I put a band-aid over my Spanish, and I promise them I won’t forget.
My children and their children will know my Spanish the same way I did.
They will fall asleep to the sounds of Mi niña tiene sueño, bendito sea, bendito sea
they will call me mamá in the same little voice I once knew.  

Today my Spanish was more broken than my English.
But tomorrow this too will heal.

 

I Took Myself Apart Today

by The Cowl Editor


Poetry


by Mariela Flores ’23

I took myself apart today.

I started with my head
Twisting and turning,
unscrewing it from the base of my neck.
A weight was lifted off my shoulders
and I was lighter than I had ever been.

I held myself in my hands and began to count.
Two eyes, two eyebrows, one nose, one mouth, one birthmark, three beauty marks.

Countless sleepless nights turned paper-thin skin purple
two eyes, two eyebrows, one nose, one mouth, one birthmark, three beauty marks.

I took myself apart today.

I continued with my skin,
Ripping it to shreds
Bit
By
Bit
Until I was just bones and organs
and my body was oozing blood.
My mirror almost shattered from the force of my fingers.
Digging   deeper    and    deeper
desperate to find something beneath the tears.
They found nothing
I was   empty.

I took myself apart today.

I ended with my bones.
Noticed the crack from when I was seven,
the thud from when I was twelve.
I was clumsy back then.

My bones were not like ivory
you could see the wear;
my bones were yellow.
Like the walls in a room.

I took myself apart today
and I was surprised by the mess I had made.