Spanish Lesson with Grapefruit
In a tiny Madrileño café
my Zaragozan instructor conjugated
subjunctive verbs as the crunch
of my puffy croissant lathered in melting
butter and layered with glistening
crumbled down to the white plate.
Sticky fingers stopped me from turning
the lesson page as I sipped
strong coffee from a large round bowl rather than a cup.
Ella / el / Usted coma
Nosotras / Nosotros comamos
Verb endings change like the direction of fractions
When inverted, confusing
and tumbling my thoughts
back to the focus of the crunch of the croissant
the ingestion of the tingling intensity of grapefruit tartness
the lemony aroma, it closes my eyes.
The grapefruit juices transformed into reflective, glass-like substance.
Hearing the white plates clattering behind the counter
as the waitress organizes her miniature station, I open
my eyes to the reflections tilting off the Spanish book
from the invading morning sunlight through a picture
window with views of a narrow, uneven cobble-stoned
street; its gray stones shine half in sun
splash and half lay in the opposite building’s shadow.
Vosotras / vosotros comáis
Ellas / Ellos / Ustedes coman
My instructor recited the chart
I hear the inflections, the soft Spanish conversations
at other tables, the giggles and complaints uttered
in a sound and pictorial collage.
Still the present perfect conjugation is to speak of unlikely
or uncertain events in the past or to cast an opinion,
often emotional, about an event or moment in the past.
I ate or comiera is the subjunctive imperfect but I
wish I were in the subjunctive present, yo coma, I eat
and the grapefruit marmelada puckers the insides of my mouth.
It was the essence of grapefruit and its memory
persists like the madeleine Proust’s aunt Leonie tasted
after dipping its crumb into the lime-flower
infused tea on a Sunday morning.
Kathleen Shull teaches AP Literature and Composition, AP Seminar Capstone at the largest Native American High School in the United States, Chinle High School on the Navajo Nation. Formerly a journalist, she also taught American English to Germans for 16 years in Saarbruecken, Muelheim an der Ruhr and Berlin. She is also a certified German, journalism, and history teacher. Last summer, she went to Jordan on a Fulbright-Hays cultural exchange to Amman, Petra, Madaba, Aqaba, the Wadi Rum, Jerash, Irbid and Umm Qais where she learned about the Ghazal poetry tradition in Arabic which she now teaches to her students. She studied Spanish in Guanajuato, Mexico and Madrid, Spain. When not learning languages, reading, or hiking, she spends most of her leisure time learning about art or visiting museums.
The Ekphrastic Review
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