Circular

a bee stung me today
right above my ear on mile 148
my seven-year-old might
start third grade in Spain

my former colleagues
discussed my job opening
the devils of divorce
and the two-faced
behavior of administrators

this is a list poem
i had two beers
and watched my Spaniards
pack up twenty bags
for the journey i will
soon take my family on

this is the beginning of the end
and the end of the beginning
how circular life can be
when in words we cannot express
all the emotions that draw
the endless lines together

For Our Spaniards

You were in our home for all of twelve hours. You were jet-lagged, disheveled, and still unpacked. Yet, instead of pulling clothing and toiletries out of your suitcases to place upon the shelves of your rooms, Silvia drew out a book entitled Fotos de España for us and jump ropes for each of the girls. Carlos retrieved a balloon air pump and engaged the girls in Spanish conversations: “¿un flor o una mariposa?” And what did you say to us? “When you come to Spain, you will see the children playing these games.” “When you come to Spain, you will see the beautiful palaces from these photos.” “When you come to Spain, you will fall in love with the people.”

Before you were here long, even the youngest, shyest daughter was requesting her balloon, was sitting on Silvia’s lap. I knew that magic had just entered our lives. I wanted to shout from the rooftops, announce to the world, the happiness that seeped from every blood vessel of my heart. It was like a dream, one that could not be defined, but that slips between your subconscious and conscious, shaking you awake with an ever-present smile.

And so our adventure began. Carlos with your infectious humor, describing every life situation with laughter and joy. “And the DMV lady said to me, ‘Are you black or white?’ I had never been asked such a thing, so I turned to her and replied, ‘I don’t know—you tell me.’” “We missed our flight and Thanksgiving Dos. Tomorrow we can have Thanksgiving Tres instead!” “Uh… and how many drinks did Bruce have before he said THOSE words to you?” “Yes, that one… weighs more than me. In first grade.”

And Silvia with your reserved, down-to-earth nature, popping in your bits of advice and no-nonsense approach to life. Silvia, the caretaker who Riona craves to cuddle with (and proudly announces to me on the side, “Mama, did you know that Silvia can read books in Spanish AND English?”). Silvia, whose detailed descriptions of the class from hell bring both empathy and amazement to all ears. Whose love for your family surpasses all, your childhood shenanigans so filled with happiness you feel you can hear all your aunties’ voices as they secretly stole children into rooms.

There is a reason we have come to call you our Spaniards. You are not like any people we have ever known. You are unique in a way that cannot be defined in any language. You are the inspiration and reason for us packing up our family of five and moving them to your home country. Your presence in our lives cannot be replaced, and you will be greatly missed.

You were in our home for all of twelve hours. Telling us we would fall in love with the people in Spain. Well, we had already fallen in love, before ever stepping on a plane, before seeing the palaces from your book, before tasting the Mediterranean air. We had fallen in love with the people who would fill our home with life for eleven months, who won us over before unpacking a single suitcase.

Leftover Remnants of Gratitude

they are back:
our table engulfs
the full-bodied laughter
whose absence has lingered
like an invisible spirit

now i smile,
my heart full,
my tear-stained,
panic-pedaled drive
to the airport
all but forgotten

their words creep across
the bottle of wine,
the stuffing, turkey,
leftover remnants of gratitude,
and rest inside me.

i have ached all day,
all the long weekend,
for the vitality
i never knew existed
until they stepped off the plane
in their Abercrombie
and winter boots (in July),
blonde and dark,
a perfect mixture of beauty.

if only their exuberance
could fill all the empty places
in the lives that surround me,
the sadness that seeps into our souls
(is this an American epidemic?),
that keeps us from living the lives
we were promised we could live.

we all need to switch pajamas,
race down the hallway of the hotel,
trip and rug-burn our palms,
and head drunkenly towards the sex shop.
when we come home?
we will laugh until we cry,
we will remember that we can
live the lives we were promised to live.

Estamos Bien

mañana tenemos el
Acción de Día de Gracias tercera

he stands in an airport
with laughter at the back of his voice,
the emotion so close to tears
that they sit waiting
on the edges of my lids

estamos bien.
tenemos una avión mañana por la mañana

because we are all well
with them in our midst–
so un-American to be grateful
for a night longer,
a missed flight,
a smile that we’ve all tucked away
inside ourselves
(that he fishes out
as easily as catching
tadpoles on a hot June day)

Thanksgiving dos,
we sit and share thanks:
one of the four girls
mentions her extra parents
(the highlight of the evening)

i bring forth my Spaniards
(absent)
but with an ever-present influence
on every thought i have,
on every emotion that has crossed my heart
in the four short months
that i have made them mine

Isabella gives me the look
as if i could forget
the reason we are all gathered,
for without these four girls,
none of this happiness
could float in the room
carrying the
feliz día de los padres
mylar balloon
up to the ceiling,
zhuzhu pet attached,
miracle in place
(can you see it?)

and the Spaniards?
they would live somewhere else,
and our surrealistic vision
of tomorrow
would be so.
real.
so.
unimaginative.

instead?
i hear him laugh
about fumando el toro,
the night in the airport
and our third,
and final,
Thanksgiving meal.