I Never really Spoke Spanish
When I was a kid,
because of the line of work I was in,
I learned to say “boug-an-vi-ya”,
I was taught these words
by a man who said “chimley” and “liberry”
I still cant say “borrow,”
somehow it comes out “bar-ee”
I don’t think that is correct,
but it is as close as I can get
At age fourteen,
I went with a church group
To Mexico. I love Mexico. I love Mexicans.
I learned enough Spanish
to buy a coke
and to flirt with
which wasn’t hard.
Then, at twenty-three,
I married the first Puerto Rican
I ever met.
She spoke perfect English,
thanks to a private
school in San Juan
But she thought
and counted in Spanish.
A few years later,
we had a beautiful baby boy
And we thought it would be
a good idea for him to learn Spanish
His mother taught him
songs with Spanish words,
which I learned.
And I learned “abaho” for down,
and “vente a key” for come here
And “vaca” for cow
and “Got toe” for cat and “pet row” for dog,
and then there were two words that meant gentleman and horse
and two words that meant kitchen and sea shell
and I was always mixing them up.
Just recently, the Puerto Rican has been an ex for twenty years, it occurs to me,
I never really spoke Spanish,
I learned code words for
things I knew in English
And some of my code was close enough
People who speak Spanish could make it out.
A couple of years ago, we went
To Paris. I love Paris. I love Parisians.
We decided we wanted to go back
And this time we were going to learn French.
Drive Time French is a series of CDs
that offer the following:
Little is “pe tea”, unless it is
masculine, like a truck,
Truck is “cam-i-on”, and blue is “blu”
as in the sound you make when you throw up,
and new is “nu-vay”, so if you want to say
new blue little truck it is like this
“nuvay blu payteat camion.”
(try not to gag, it ruins the beauty of French)
of course, very few Frenchmen know this code
so on the off chance I need
to tell a lovely Parisian
about a new small blue truck,
I doubt I could, but then, in truth,
I never really spoke English, either.