Que necesitas?

Muneca, carina, querida, mami,
como estas hoy, bien?  Si, si, como esta usted?
The speed with which one passes from usted to tu
when it’s clear you’re paying attention to
what’s being said, even if your verb tenses are
rough– it’s a cultural study in its own right.
Mamacita, que pasa?  Si, mucho trabajo,
pero se paga.   Mademoiselle, bonjour, non, non,
bonjour, monsieur, comment-allez-vous aujourd’hui?
Je l’aime tout c’est bling,
monsieur, c’est pour votre MC party c’est weekend?

Yes, of course you can come in.
Let me just tell this person I’ll call them back.
What was it you wanted to know?
(And if Google translate helps us through
the Mandarin I don’t understand,
well, it all works out in the end.  I already
knew what bao bei meant from Firefly.
Who says TV’s no good for learning?)

The miniature cactus garden
at the end of my filing cabinet,
next to my jar of pens and my mug
of rubber bands, paper clips, my stack
of scrap paper– I call the cactus Que necesitas,
because it sounds a little prickly, but it’s
mush underneath, full of succor.

No, no querido, que tu no interrumpes nada, 
es solamente papeles, puede hacerlos manana.  
Que necesitas?

(There are 6 non-English languages spoken at my store.  I only speak two of the four for which we require regular translation.  I wonder if they’ll pay me to learn all the rest?)


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