Green Hills Literary Lantern



My Spanish




My Spanish is wrapped in tinfoil and sitting in a refrigerator, 

Excited to be taken out and heated so that its scents and spices

fill my mouth with ease, and remind my tongue of how it feels to speak 



My Spanish comes from Spain. Its “lisp” adds color and clarity,

rolling into una tortilla de patatas, warm and distinguishable. It dances 

flamenco and slaps my cheeks like the tail of a fish, startling me when I speak 



My Spanish is easily influenced. It scurries after a Mexican accent,

molds into a Colombian rhythm, and sings a Cuban song as it imitates

the sounds around me. It chases after fluency, exposing that I don’t often speak



My Spanish stumbles over itself as it tries to mask its American accent

with tumbling speed. My cheeks flush with embarrassment, satisfaction, and

hesitant courage, and familiarity and foreignness bubble within me when I speak




Bihotza James-Lejarcegui is a student in Iowa City and currently enrolled in a creative writing workshop led by writers from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She also attended a Non-Fiction Summer Creative Writing Workshop at Brown University. Her father is American and her mother is Basque; her parents originally intended forher to be raised in her mother’s native language. “However, they soon decided teaching me Spanish was more logical and useful, so since then my family has mixed and intertwined multiple languages within our household. This has allowed me to step foot into the doorway of fluency, but has left me slightly desperate as I have never been completely and fully immersed in the language. My Spanish is political, as it is a language forced upon Basques in Spain, and it is also my connection to my immigrant and Spanish speaking peers.”