Friday Poem

Language Current

English is like a nuclear reactor.
I’m in it right now.
As I shoot down it’s fast track
small bits of skin, fragments, cells
stick to my sides.
Once in a while whole sentences gush forth
and slam themselves against the page
condensing their spray of pellets
into separate words.
Sometimes I travel at 186,000 miles an hour,
the speed of light,
when I lie sleepless on the bed at night.
No excess baggage allowed.
No playful, baroque tendrils
curling this way and that.
No dreamtime walkabout
all the way down to Australia.
In English you have to know where you’re going:
either towards the splitting of the self
or the blasting of the molecules around you.

Spanish is a different tongue.
It’s deeper and darker, with so many twists
and turns it makes me feel like I’m navigating
the uterus. Shards of gleaming stone,
emerald, amethyst, opal
wink at me as I swim down the moist shaft.
It goes deeper than the English Channel,
al the way down to the birth canal and beyond.

by Rosario Ferré
El Coro
University of Massachusetts Press, 1997