The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: August, 2009

Spanish for Feathers

Look Eva, I said, las uvas! Las uvas! We were on the airplane, and I was pointing to the clouds. She had slept soundlessly on my chest as we climbed to 33,000 feet, but then she woke, and there was the rattle and the silver teether and Baby Jane, but finally, all the tricks in my bag could do no good, so I pointed to the clouds. Las uvas, I said, las uvas. I couldn’t quite remember if uva was the word for cloud or bird, but I took pleasure in the fact that we were in the sky and either might work. Las uvas, oh, las beautiful uvas.

Very cute, the woman beside me said, and I smiled. Yes, my daughter is bilingual, I wanted to say, and so am I! Grapes, the woman said. Floating grapes.


Las uvas, she said. Grapes.

We three stared out the window, and the clouds were long and stringy as cotton candy pulled from its paper cone. Cumulus may have saved me, may have painted me as both bilingual and wildly imaginative, but those wisps were as thin and real as a dream. I thought hard for the word for feather. Pluma, I thought, but then I thought la pluma was a pen. I imagined Eva growing up to believe that the sky was filled with ink pens and grapes, that it was ready to be written on and devoured. Feathers, I whispered to her and she pressed her hand on the window. Las plumas, the woman beside me said, and I repeated it, and the loud hum of the plane carried us home.

Sunnyside Up