In Words We Learned as Children

Zizi's IN WORDS WE LEARNED AS CHILDREN

IN WORDS WE LEARNED AS CHILDREN

When first he came, we thought him such
As many who had come;
Our fathers told of men who came with weapons,
Men who walked throughout our land.
And now men pass in birds
That grind and clatter in the sky,
But he has stayed.

At first it was not often that he came.
He talked to us at first as others talked;
In Spanish words we’d gathered
From the marketplace as men.
But always did he ask
For words we learned as children.
He stopped us on the trail to ask,
And ask, and ask again until we wondered
Why his mind forgot so quick.

By day he walked, and nights he spent
Within our houses, tired, but always asking.
Then he built his house beside our trail,
And we would visit him and talk.
We always talked.
And he would ask of things our fathers said
Of spirits, and of rains, of sicknesses and tigers

Others come, and after questions,
After pictures, leave.
But he has stayed, and now he talks to us
In words we learned as children.
He talks to us of One
Who orders evil spirits out of men,
Who stops the water in its deadly course,
Who stops the sicknesses of men.
He made a book for us to read
And walks to us to read and talk.

He is the strangest sort of man;
He does not want our land,
But totes our zinc to make our rooves,
And wire for pasture land.
He cleans our wounds,
And helps us with our pain.
He stops his work to listen to us talk,
And talks to us of One
Who made the Earth we walk upon,
In words we learned as children.

Paul Lloret, 1971


Zizi’s IN WORDS WE LEARNED AS CHILDREN

The inspiration for the imagery and words came after reading the book, Double Vision, by Aziel and Marian Jones. For 45 years, they worked as linguists and missionaries in the alien Costa Rican mountains of the Cabecar Indians. They are friends of my Grandparents. The work is from the supposed perspective of a native Cabecar speaker. Where we see SUN in the sky, they see Káwö. Below is a list of additional Cabecar words found within the painting.
Water-Di
Stone-Ják
House-Ju
Moon-Tulu
Wind-Si

Rae’s IN WORDS WE LEARNED AS CHILDREN:

When I was little and most of Dad’s family lived near one another, all family meals involved someone starting a conversation in Spanish. Paul, his wife, and their kids would all compete with each other to see who could remember the most from their days in Central America. They would spend some time singing hymns in Spanish and would always end with a song to appease us grandchildren, who grew up speaking English and hated being left out of the Spanish conversations. The song about the little chicks was a favorite, but I didn’t understand the words – I just memorized the sound they made – until years later as an adult in Southwest Texas.

The song has always been delightful for me, a simple way to connect to a language that is part of my heritage but so difficult to learn as an adult. These canvases are simple and fun (like the song), and they indicate a conversation – a back and forth – using simple words, children’s words, to make a connection.

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