“The fact that I

am writing to you

in English

already falsifies what I

wanted to tell you.

My subject:

how to explain to you that I

don’t belong to English

though I belong nowhere else”

-Gustavo Perez Firmat, Bilingual Blues


I’ve been wanting to tell you about him for a while

But how can I tell you of someone who

Doesn’t exist in this language

Someone whose essence

Becomes damaged in this context


Even the simple characteristics,

the constant quips

the raised eyebrows,

aren’t captured


In this tongue that’s used constantly

To claim

To take


No he was not “loving,” a word that rolls off the tongue

And disappears into its overused shell

Era amoroso

because the word amoroso occupies your mouth

makes it fill full

in the same way he filled you

with his love

with his eyes

that greeted you with acceptance

for who and what you were

at that exact moment

knowing all that you’ve been through

and all that you could become


but “eyes” isn’t right either

“eyes” turn your mouth into a line


that’s the word

because it’s circular, brings images of his glasses

how they swooped down over his crooked nose

ever time he turned to you

with a secret

with a laugh

so how can I possibly tell you

what its like to lose him

when you can’t understand

the very language

the space we occupied


he didn’t exist in this language

of troubles

of demise

he exists in the best parts of me

the places where I dare

to dream

the place were

I’m capable

Of everything

Even saying


Forgive me


Because I am


That I can’t bring myself

To accept this place.

Accept you.

Because you don’t understand

And I don’t know how to make you

But maybe

I just don’t

Want that.


I don’t

Want you,

To understand



I wish

You’d recognize

That you




Image via gustavoperezfirmat.com

Do you enjoy reading the Nass?

Please consider donating a small amount to help support independent journalism at Princeton and whitelist our site.