I Wish I Understood Love – George Franklin

You open the outdoor shutters so the room won’t seem so
Dim and small—papers, books in piles on the bed tables, the desk,
My old shirts and pants crowding the closet with its broken door,

The one I promised to fix at least two years ago.  You work
Through the afternoon, translating while you listen to Rimsky-Korsakov,
Your back to the window, your hands casting shadows, puppets,

Their strings falling, rising, with the music.  After dinner, we have coffee
And go for a night walk by the shopping mall.  Only a few restaurants
Are still open—and the new 7/11 with neon gas pumps.  Clouds

Seem to stumble across the dark sky to the west.
Beneath the streetlamps, there are pink mussaenda blossoms,
Orange-red poinciana framed by black, and those

Yellow allamanda vines we can barely see on top of the fence.
Across the street, the supermarket is just closing.  I know how
Fragile all this is, how lucky I am to walk next to you here,

Talking about grammar, Octavio Paz, Borges,
Or the pan de bono you used to buy at a bakery in Cali—
You tell me it’s not there anymore, but there must be others that

Are just as good.  Tomorrow, we will sleep past the alarm, having
Gone to bed late, having stayed up, wasting time, trying to find
A poem I wanted to show you, sending email to friends we don’t see

Very often.  Finally, we will have turned back the bed, slipped our legs
Simultaneously under the blanket, arranged the pillows and set
The alarm we’ll sleep past, then touched, lips pressed fiercely

Against whatever parts of each other we can find.  I wish
I understood love.  I call you, mi amor, but in Miami, the ladies who
Pour cortaditos at every cafeteria use that expression all the time.

I worry the words don’t mean enough, but I don’t know what
Words would mean more.  For dinner, you fried fish Colombian-style,
Pescado aborrajado, while I made rice and cut cherry

Tomatoes to put over the avocados.  We drank red wine and talked.
Afterwards, cleaning up, I tried out some sentences in my very
Bad Spanish to make you laugh, succeeding beyond all expectations.

George FranklinGeorge Franklin is the author of four poetry collections: Noise of the World (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions), Traveling for No Good Reason (winner of the Sheila-Na-Gig Editions competition in 2018), a dual-language collection, Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas (Katakana Editores), and a chapbook, Travels of the Angel of Sorrow (Blue Cedar Press). Individual publications include: Panoply, Cagibi, Into the Void, Sequestrum, Pedestal Magazine, and The American Journal of Poetry. He practices law in Miami, teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons and is the co-translator, along with the author, of Ximena Gómez’s Último día/Last Day (Katakana Editores). More at https://gsfranklin.com/.