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We dream in a language we all understand,
in the tongue that preceded alphabet and word.
Each time we claim beauty from the world,
we approximate its secret grammar, its silent
syntax; draw nearer to the Rosetta stone
for dismantling Babel.
If I say el azul, you may not see the color
of mi cielo, mi mar. Look once upon my sky,
my sea, and you will know precisely
what el azul means to me.
Begin with this: the cool kiss
of a September morning in Georgia, the bell-shaped
currents of air changing in the sky, the sad ghosts
of smoke clinging to a cleared field, and the way
days will taste different in your mouth each week
of the season. Sabado: Saturday
is strawberry. Martes: Tuesday
is bitter chocolate to me.
Do you know what I mean?
Still, everything we dream circles back.
Imagine the bird who returns home every night
with news of a miraculous world just beyond
your private horizon. To understand its message
first you must decipher its dialect of distance,
its idiom of dance. Look for clues
in its arching descent; in the way it resists
gravity. Above all you have to learn why
it aims each day
toward the boundless azul.
From WOMAN IN FRONT OF THE SUN: ON BECOMING A WRITER by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Copyright 2000 by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Used by permission of The University of Georgia Press