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    Distractions During Spanish Mass

     

     

    a priest speaks clumsy Spanish

    his “oh’s” turn into “ows”

    and “eh’s” turn into “ay’s,”

    stumbling on the precipice

    of holy words in an alien tongue

     

    like a toddler who’s learned how to walk,

    his moving feet giving momentum

    to halting but steady steps

    leading him ever forward

    in an uneven, meandering line

     

    though I know he means well

    I can’t get past the language mutilation

    the absent accents and careless conjugations

    so my spiritual connection to the story

    slowly

                dissipates

    like

    morning mist

     

    and my mind and eyes

     

    wander

     

    a woman looks back at her rambunctious child

    who is talking a bit too loudly

    as he darts down the aisle towards the back

    his tiny tennis shoes smacking against the tile

     

    I gasp softly as he trips,

    first landing on knees, then hands

    he looks back and a high-pitched laugh

    lightly bounces off the walls and

    bubbles up to the vaulted ceiling

     

    his mother remains in her pew

    straight back and looking forward

    absorbed in the priest’s homily

    or pretending not to notice

    or a bit of both

    trusting his resilience

    without so much as a glance

     

    we both know he’ll come back

    and I sneak a smile at him

    before turning back and

    catching the last of the priest’s

    own vocal trips and tumbles

     

     

    ***

     

    Flying into Mexico City

     

     

    Brown

    is the first thing I see,

    deep dark mountains and earth

    dotted with dark green tree tops.

     

    They almost look light, airy

    peaceful pyramids of cocoa powder,

    surrounded by land the color of tan leather.

     

    Es increible, verdad?”1 my husband says,

    the country of his birth inspiring

    the boyish sparkle in his eyes as

    I recognize the land’s rich hues in his skin.

     

    Though I’ve been to Mexico before,

    these mountains are strangers to me.

     

    Homes and offices cluster and creep up the mountainside,

    metal and glass glittering in the sun like grains of sand

    as I take it in from my window seat view.

     

    The highways cut across and through the city

    as skyscrapers tower over houses and apartments.

    Bright and bold pinks, yellows,

    greens, and blues fill my eyes

    as I enter the heart of my family’s history

    and the heavenly haven of my husband’s present.

     

     

    ***

    Spanish Signals

     

     

    Every time I hear someone speaking in Spanish,

    my ears perk up

    like a dog that hears a frequency

    no one else can.

    I’m drawn to their words,

    my instincts homing in on what’s familiar.

     

    If I can, I’ll make a trivial comment,

    so they can see I’m here,

    so they know, “Aquí estoy, amigos.

    Soy como ustedes.1

     

    I’ve gotten used to the reaction –

    the sudden widening of eyes,

    the hesitant, polite smile as they

    try to figure me out:

     

    Am I a fellow mexicana?

    Or an americana who speaks

    their native language

    surprisingly well?

     

    My fair skin and ambiguous features

    don’t give them any clues

    so I’m always left wondering

    which label they’ve chosen for me

    long after we’ve parted ways.

     

     

    About The Author

    Eloisa author photo (702x800)

    Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

    Eloísa lives in Houston, Texas, and works as an events and publicity coordinator for the University of Houston. She graduated from Iowa State University with her M.S. in journalism and mass communication and her B.S. in psychology. She is a long-distance member of the Latino Writers Collective in Kansas City, and a member of the Gulf Coast Poets and The Poetry Society of Texas. Her poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in The Texas Observer, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Acentos Review, The Ofi Press, several anthologies, and VONA’s Voices Against Racial Injustice: An Arts Forum, among others.