I didn’t understand you.
Plural you, ihr. English fails me.
Both times it was another language
and your time (singular, dich)
it came too late, a concession,
the only one I would get.
Vous étiez–vous deux. Imparfait.
Ni l’un ni l’autre a comprit
mais l’un a apprit et lui, and he
is, still is, in several tongues
and hands and uteri.
Even though you and I
know the rules
for making plurals, for wanting
plurals, and for conjugating
languages with Latin roots.
You and I know the history
of roots, wurzeln, racines.
You and I dabble in Spanisch.
Doesn’t everyone? Doesn’t he?
Tú eres die Sonne und ich bin
la lune et lui est neder mich.
You say you don’t like languages
even though you’ve learned three.
Can you say te amo and take it back?
That, I would have understood
not the whisper on a beach
not the mumbled accented speech
the concession, that always costs
too much, zu viel, nimis, demasiado, trop.
SK Brownell is a writer, artist and educator from the American Midwest. Their poetry, prose, and drama have appeared in Crab Fat Magazine, Seven CirclePress, Crack the Spine, formercactus and elsewhere. They were a 2018 Sewanee Conference Tennessee Williams Scholar and winner of the 2015 National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Excellence Award. They hold an MFA from Boston University, teach writing at GrubStreet, and create with Artists’ Theater of Boston. More at skbrownell.com.