No Voy a Forget

No Voy a Forget

Mi amor, espero que
Yo recuerde the way
You sound with three
Buttons undone, tu voz
Baja, cariñosa.
Will I remember the feel
De tu nombre the first time
I wrapped my lips around it?
When I made the exception
To my rule that yo sólo
Me casaría con un hombre
Si sabía cocinar
So I could marry you?
No quiero olvidar pues
I will sear into my memory
El sabor de tus besitos
And the way you held my tears
El día que murío Joan.
Cuando yo soy una mujer
Vieja y cascarrabias, I will
Remember watching ducks with you,
Los noches cuando me hacía
Cosquillas to wake me,
Your face of untameable ardiente love.

Author’s Note

“No Voy a Forget” is my very first bilingual poem. I didn’t set out to write bilingual poetry in the beginning, it was more of a happy accident. I set out to write a love poem, and I hated the result. I had a few Spanish phrases rolling around in my head so I threw them in as an experiment and it turned out well.

I love the rhythm and pace of Spanish, and I love how it dances with the rhythm of English. Spanish quickens the pace of the whole poem, like in the lines “To my rule that yo sólo / Me casaría con un hombre / Si sabía cocinar.” The natural cadence of Spanish is much faster than English and it is especially evident in this section of the poem leading up to a shift. On the other hand, in some places the English slows the pace of the poem down, emphasizing certain words’ significance. This is important in the beginning to set the mood with the words “the way / You sound with three / Buttons undone” and to emphasize the determination in the line “I will sear into my memory.”

I tend to follow the path of the poem when deciding which words should be in which language based on what sounds the best and which words in which language pack the most punch and convey the most meaning. I also consider how quickly I want the poem to move. I try to have enough lines in English to make sure readers can understand the overall tone and subject of the poem, but my main goal is more for readers and listeners to engage in the music of the languages.

Recently, my work has focused in on exploring the dance of the two languages in combination, often embracing more Spanish than English and Latin American cultural themes as well as my own everyday life.

Chelsea RisleyChelsea Risley is pursuing a BA in English Creative Writing and Spanish at Berry College. She won the Southern Women Writers Student Writing Contest in Poetry in 2012 and her work has appeared in Berry College’s literary magazine. She currently lives in Rome, Georgia with her husband.