Third Person Me / Marta Dean


Marta needed words. She always needed words. Words to describe, words to run words together, to be, to do, to move ahead. Sometimes there were plenty and she wondered where they came from; these were moments of rare pleasure, delight on the abundance and wonder. She wanted to use English as she did Spanish, because she loved both, but the words in English showed up in unpredictable and arbitrary ways; English was not her first language. What is that she did that triggered language and opened the passage of thought? What was the trick? She knew the words were there.

The fact was that Marta’s experience of language was never the same, and she felt, different. Her language was different. If she spoke English or thought in Spanish, she seldom planned or knew. Code-switching, Spanglish, easy, hard, fluid, obscure, you are, you are not, you are a maybe. Condemned to partial thoughts and scattered language, scattered voices, she wondered who she was. Contemplating her chameleonic traits, she asked: “What would be like to be me?”

Marta liked to take notes, verbatim, and analyze others’ discourse, stealing, borrowing, in an attempt to appropriate the words, the phrases, their implied meanings, as her own. Not any words. Just those pronounced with meaning. Meaningful meaning. Extending the boundaries of her own thoughts, intentionally, for the sake of identity, power, and voice, she felt ethereal; like clouds passing pushed by external forces, partial, broken, incomplete, unfinished, defective, transient, temporal, undefined.

She did love both. But hated her opaque Anglo tone. What would be like to have words flowing with an oily pace and a shiny sound, to speak free of extravagances, that accent, that pose, artificially and forcefully manufactured, composed and produced? Maybe she could use a permanent marker and define her “silueta”, delineate the vocal boundaries and make all clear. What would be like to be the others?

Become just one.
Whole.
Pure.
Intact.
Definite.
Defined
Solid
Exemplary
Permanently herself.

Become just one. Just one. One. Defined. Permanently self. Limited. She hunched under the weight, felt oppressed, caged. Reconsider.

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