Never Have I Ever

Kip (Sarah) McMillan

September 24, 2012

I wander the town like a stranger and mostly I am but I feel like spitting fire, like I always have, I feel like making myself open, like I always have, like saying anything that people could understand, anything would do, really, but my tongue is made of cement, just like every single house here. Every single one, I wish I could paint them all, like I always have but never have I ever eaten fruit straight from the tree, never have I ever enjoyed dancing until now, and never have I ever kissed an Ecuadorean boy. And unfortunately, language is not contagious but typhoid fever is, which is why they shot me up with vaccines before shooting me off here. If only there were Spanish idioms in those syringes because I am ill with culture shock; I am dying to understand conversations between children, if only I could be as empty as they are.

Never have I ever been an optimist but my glass is half full and filling by the second not just with words but kisses on the cheek and loud, sharp whistles that cloud the air at night when I’m trying to see the stars. The moon sometimes hides behind the mountains, which I am thankful for because they keep all the people so warm like a wooden bowl carved by a god they believe so fervently in. I am skeptical of him, as I always have been but now also of myself, if she’s even the same person who skipped out on her life one month ago and counting. Never have I ever been so unsure of myself but never have I ever been so sure of what I’m doing, which is everything I can, all at once if I have to. Or one at a time, which is probably what Ecuadoreans would prefer anyway. They say I should slow down but there is so much flying by me, so many things that go over my head and until yesterday, I didn’t know how to say ‘slow down’ in Spanish. Now I use it all the time, before people even open their mouths because I’d rather say that first than ever say “repita por favor” again.

Never have I ever been so lost for words. Not because I don’t know which ones to use but because I hardly know any at all. As a poet, I thought I owned words but they own me. I compromise meaning for understanding and understand nothing. The other day, I thought we were going on a walk. We ended up driving to a farm in the mountains, where Pimampiro was a pod nestled in a valley, and two dogs rolled in the grass. They greeted me with wagging tails, wagging tongues and love. There was love there. We picked tangerines right from the trees. Never have I ever been so totally okay with knowing nothing.

Never have I ever felt the world so fully.

And never have I ever once regretted this beginning.

Kip (Sarah) McMillan