A Foreign Tongue

by | Aug 17, 2016 | Poetry

Tonguea zuihitsu

My husband unwraps the beef tongue.
It unfurls on the cutting board with a slap.
It stinks. I turn away—the flap too familiar.

La lengua – the tongue.
¿Como se dice “language”?

In Rome, we splashed past Bangladeshi peddlers.
They waved cheap umbrellas, call out
nihao! to my Chinese husband.
Basta! we spit back, even though
we weren’t sure what it meant.

Years later in Spain, I’m digging through memory,
looking for old words and phrases to use.
Before I go, a friend tells me to embrace
the no pasa nada lifestyle. It’s no big deal
if I can’t find the right word. I surprise
myself when I make a stranger laugh.
She does not correct me.

no pasa nada
nothing passes

She also teaches me sobre la marcha
go with the flow.
It’s about the march.

We stomped and marched through Rome, feet
fast and heavy. But Positano slowed us.
We leaned into each other, kissing softly.
My husband’s hand, my hand.

mano y mano

A woman and a man
are one.
A woman and a man and a tongue
are one.


Photo “Tongue” by Rene Jakobson modified and used under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

About The Author

Whitney Schultz

Whitney G. Schultz earned her M.F.A. in poetry at UNC-Greensboro. She currently lives outside of Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing and literature. Her poetry and flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in “deLuge”, “SmokeLong”, “One for One Thousand”, “The Light Ekphrastic” and “Contemporary American Voices,” among others.