Tuesday, March 31, 2009

(Each line of this poem begins with the next letter in the alphabet.)

Another day in Cuernavaca,
before dawn breaks the sound of traffic rises
cars zooming through narrow streets,
drivers intent on getting a jump on the day.
Even though I don’t have the impression that ambition and work
form the foundation of this culture.
Gringa that I am , it seems pretty chaotic to me.
Having said that,
I marvel at the pockets of cleanliness in this dirty city.
Just yesterday I discovered Las Mananitas, a Relais and Chateau property
kept pristine and secure behind a pink stucco wall which
lies across from the large Catholic church that I pass
on the way to El Centro, which is
my least favorite place in this city.
Nevertheless, I find that I go there a lot.
Oh, there are places here that are lovely.
Pristine surprises in the midst of squalor.
Que bueno! To find a well-maintained ancient cathedral
right across the street from Jardin Borda, where
sculptures of angels by a Mexican artist
touched my heart.
Under the chaos of the city lies a tender Mexican soul, which the
Virgin of Guadalupe, the Mother of Mexico, mourns,
weeping soft tears which
express her sorrow that the many
years of hope and caring, fueled by the
zeal of her love, have produced this.


Spanish Lessons

Juan shows such patience
as I struggle to shape a sentence
using the pronouns he’s just introduced.
There are only about ten of them
and their use is perfectly logical
if you think in Spanish.

But my brain is wired in English
and has lots of trouble accepting that an
object can come before a verb.
It’s a little easier to tack them on the end
which is an option in some cases.
But it still doesn’t come naturally.

No estrese! No estrese! Reminds Juan
and of course, he’s right.
It doesn’t help to throw frustration into the mix.
That only makes it worse
and punishes my verbal cortex
which is really doing its best.

So I breathe deeply and try to see the humor
in sounding like a dyslexic five year old.
Poco a poco, Giovanni assures us. Poco a poco.

I am here in Mexico to learn Spanish,
but I think the biggest lesson of all might be

Getting Settled

How good it is to be in Mexico,
comfortable in my simple room,
with kitchenette just outside the door,
two twin beds,
and a fresh towel once a week.

The teachers at the school are patient and kind
and don’t seem to approach teaching like a job or duty.
They even seem to enjoy spending evenings with students
in outdoor cafes where we struggle to hear and understand them
over the blaring salsa music, to which couples dance between the crowded tables.

Bit by bit, poco a poco, I learn the language.
Bit by bit, I learn that important things sometimes get buried by needs and wants
that have nothing to do with being alive.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My first day in Mexico

I was so excited about the prospect of coming to Mexico.
A new culture, new friends, new vistas,
different food and traditions.
But mostly I was looking forward to learning a new language,
a different mix of sounds to express thoughts and feelings.
I never imagined that what I’d want to say most of all would be . . .

I want to go home.