Monday, June 11, 2012

my head is full of glue

I just got home from Serbian class.  My head feels like it's full of glue.  You know the feeling? As if your eyebrows are pierced with 1/4 lbs. weights.  Don't get me wrong.  I highly recommend learning the language of the country in which you live.  It is hard, though.  Here you are, this grown-up, accomplished person, but when you are learning a language you feel, well, absolutely stupid.  You can say hardly anything and then when you do you sound like Pebbles on the Flintstones (I just dated myself).  Oh, how many times did I come home from Spanish class bawling like the baby I sounded like in class?  It gets easier.  With every language you learn, it gets easier.  Maybe you get over feeling like an imbecile more quickly.  Maybe you realize that it's worth it because you see how people light up when they realize you want to communicate on their terms.

The amusing thing about the "glue" comment is that it reminds me of a poem I wrote when I was just becoming proficient in Spanish.  Even at the roughest point in learning, Spanish felt like honey in my ears.  Think of flamenco.  Smooth and melodic.  Macedonian, Serbian?   These languages mirror the traditional Serbian dance, the Kolo, complex, amazingly strong, yet incredibly beautiful.  You've got to watch this video to understand why my head, like my feet are oozing glue.  It's a little intimidating.

 Okay, now here's honey.

Learning Spanish
by Stephanie Rowlands

Her words flow over me like honey,
liquid and sticky.
Some of it sticks;
Some of it simply and quietly flows to the ground
and gathers in a puddle of goo.
But the part that sticks,
those golden pieces of sun
coat my mouth
sine my lips.
I roll my tongue through them,
around them,
pushing and massaging them like
the gap from a lost tooth,
supple and pink,
foreign and strange.
But after a while,
after enough sticking and prodding
my tongue gets used to it
the sharp edges of the cloudy white tooth
prick my tongue
and until
enough honey sticks
and my mouth is full
full of teeth
of cloud
of honey
and once open,
the gold will flow from my sticky teeth
into her ears
and some of it will stick
and some of it will simply and quietly flow to the ground
but enough to it will stick
and she will understand.

Tell us your language trials, tribulations and triumphs!


  1. Beautiful poem, Steph. And great metaphors - comparing dance to language. This poem seems familiar; have you sent it to me before? It's wonderful and evocative and now I'm craving a spoonful of honey. :)

    1. Thank you, Cristy! I just figured out how to reply to these. Good grief! So much to learn! Yes, you've read this poem before now. It's an oldie, dated way back to Mexico! I might have read it in Tuscon when we visited your friend there. Love to you!

  2. I knew I'd heard it before. An oldie, but a goodie! You're so talented! Love your blog!


Postcard Poem: My Serbian Mayfield