local_library Foreign Love

by Erik Rodgers

Published in Issue No. 261 ~ February, 2019

This foreign land has rendered me bestial,

little better than an animal,

for I have no real access to your language.

Only words for ‘yes’ and ‘good’ and ‘please’

so that you must watch as I grunt and point

and smile.


But you are gracious, you bear the weight of

language for two—

I am made civilized by your tongue,

though it too soon tires of syllables

rare and strange.


Frequent pauses follow,

staccato moments full of hand gestures, glances,

and uncomfortable laughs.


And soon there is nothing left

for us, but to turn slowly,

to slip from our chairs and crawl onto elbows and knees.

To grow close to the earth as we try to be

together in our strangeness.


There, we find something

tucked between us.


Intimacy, like a cat, slides from that wordless space.

It arches and growls.

We coax her on with coos and purrs

until our hands form a bridge for her to walk across.

Our embrace making

corners for her to cuddle into.


Like her, we grow kittenish, and

free of language.

We plunge our hands into our hearts.

We set our tongues to other uses.

No lying left,

no parsing of syllables.


There is an honesty in our bodies,

as we learn to trust the way only animals can,

accepting the touch, the smile,

the warm sensation of that which exists

when we join.




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I am a writer and filmmaker living between Los Angeles, CA and Prague, Czechia. I hold an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and have been honored with the PEN/Goddard Scholarship, the 2015 PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship for fiction, the 2016 Claire Carmichael Scholarship for the UCLA Writers Program and a 2017 Fellowship for Artists and Writers from the American Antiquarian Society. I have had poems and stories appear in Pif Online, the Pitkin Review, Conceptions Southwest, and Mountain Tales. I have also written and directed two independent films. I am currently preparing my first novel, The Broken World, for publication and have several film and television projects in development. I am repped by Judy Coppage at The Coppage Company.