What Gets Lost

Several years ago, I bought an unbelievably gorgeous ring at a department store in Toronto. I have no idea how much it cost me. I have no idea the name of the store. No idea how to describe it. At Dave & Buster’s a year or so later, the ring did a thing–slid off, it flew, it shot in the same direction of the basketball I aimed at the net. The ball came back to me. The ring didn’t.

I’ve been reading Cape Verde’s first (and only) Creole-English dictionary. It’s a very nostalgic experience. All the words I know, the words I don’t. How the definitions surprise me. Sadden me. How I’m sure, the published definitions mean something different to someone else. The power of interpretation leads me to riff off the English definitions, aware that in the process, images facts ideas values and beliefs are sliding off, flying, landing here, elsewhere, and nowhere. I cannot stop writing This Won’t Make Sense in English definition poems:

From the dictionary:

Pasada [pasu] n step; ~ di ómi, grasa-l mudjer, short visit; badja ~, dance the pasada dance

From what I’ve lost:

dancing the pasada dance is a message: consumption is not something you do with your mouth

I’m not sure I know what I’m getting at but think I’m having a moment. Appreciating the ways in which words mean things, the ways in which all words, in every language, mean, to feel. It’s fascinating, this idea of culture and how we are because of it, in spite of it.

The loss of my ring went from clumsy

to there are worse things to lose.

Went from

is this making sense in English

to how are we making sense

of the words we use

to say what it is

we cannot.

-Shauna Barbosa, 2017 Writers’ Room of Boston Fellow

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