Spoken Language


They track us from the very beginning
Sebsastian told me, as we lay
legs intertwined, French vocabulary pushed aside.
In Germany they find the very bright
and the very slow
and the very average
like separating Skittles into color groups, I muse.
I have no preference with Skittles,
they all taste pretty fine, pretty much the same,
You can only make out their twinges of flavor
by separating them.
This is how schools are made in Germany.


Tell Grandma he's Swedish or Danish she won't know
Mother has me cornered at the kitchen counter
chopping green heads off carrots.
Sebastian's grandfather was a doctor
moved to Switzerland
to avoid becoming
not that it matters now
with Grandma in the living room
saying prayers over bread
lighting candles for the dead


I will certainly fail French this semester
and Sebastian lets the words curl out of his mouth
like smoke rings or bubbles.
English came first, though,
V's and W's aside, his sounds are perfect
He's known Guns-N-Roses since age 8
his first word in my language
was fuck


One a.m.
Father sitting at kitchen table with coffee mug, armed.
Studying at Sebastian's.
French, and calculus.
Smart, aren't they?
I only know one.
One is enough.


Amazed with my ignorance of geography
Sebastian asks me to rattle off
as many countries
as I can think of in two minutes.
If I make twenty
he pays for dinner.
I say, hating his ignorance.


Soft cool fingers wrapped in my dark hair
asleep in my arms his jaw softened
in silence, not struggling to form flat English vowels.
I watch his eyes roll softly beneath their lids.
I've asked
What language do you dream in?
He said.

Jessica Sitnick