The Spirit That Moves Us

Photograph by Jose Padua
My favorite thing to say in German
is “meine Rundfunkapparat ist kaput”
while in English my favorite phrase
is “I love you” which I say all the time to
my wife and kids.
Sometimes I wonder if as I age
I may begin to mix things up
and say “I love you” to the stranger
to whom I’m demonstrating
one of three sentences
I know in German
while telling my wife and kids
“mein Rundfunkapparat ist kaputt”
meaning “my radio is broken”
when they go to bed
or go off for the day
to do the things they need to do.
Already my daughter has learned
from me that you can bid a person farewell
by saying, “Mutter wir haben post,”
meaning, “Mother we have mail.”
She knows these words are wrong and have
nothing to do with farewells or so-longs
or even see-you-laters
and that most people say “Goodbye”
but she loves to say the only words in German
that she knows as do I.
Perhaps one day my son,
will say “I love you”
during a discussion of Newton’s First Law
upon realizing these words
are the shortest distance toward
an understanding of basic physics,
and “schönes Wetter heute”
(nice weather today)
down in the valley,
when it’s four in the morning
and everyone else is asleep and
he feels that finally,
after long, slow years of doubt and indecision,
progress is being made.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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