Duende (Spanish): The mysterious power that a work of art can have over a person.
In a swirl at the moon; with the twirls of a skirt, you swung with the trills of the notes that floated on lit candles and whitened drapes flowing in chords. In a crescendo at the base of a mountain; with the snowy blanket falling over our heads as you hummed in bursts of four beats drinking red wine and overcooked steak. That was my mistake. In a forte at the eye of the storm; with the sharpened winds draping your arms in light brushes, tiny pricks lifting your hairs, your eyes nearly falling into black. The song ends and we’re sitting at our tables, drinking red wine with food that no one would die for. The next song comes on, we’re back at the moon.
Han (Korean): A collective feeling of oppression and isolation.
I will always be alone.
Litost (Czech): A feeling that synthesizes grief, sympathy, remorse and longing.
I saw her crying that night when her father died. She wouldn’t answer me. My touch faded into her space. My words fell flat onto her ears. Her eyes were a distant red. My step-sister would never come to forget him, and I barely knew him. I was hardly in the world when I was born. I was hardly in the world when everything around me seemed to change. I was hardly in the world when those that I should have sought close to me were further than the stars. My step-sister came into my life soon after. I met her first at the train station waiting for the 104 to come. Her smile beamed throughout the dim light of the afternoon station. She greeted me with all she had. Her bright hair flung behind her in her playful gait. Her warmth found me. Not long after my mother remarried, my father had died again. Pangs of daggers came onto me from every moment of living. But seeing my sister be so distraught, seeing her smile turn into contortions made me want to hold her. To lend her my warmth, the same warmth she lent me. I never knew my father, or my step-father, but I have an obligation now to be someone who can protect my family. I wish I knew my father, or my step-father, so I could at least have some way of knowing how I can do that.
Saudade (Portuguese): Melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing far away.
My hands dip into the water as you float further from my finger tips frizzling in the short aftertaste of rain as it glides off the tip of my tongue, you find yourself waddling in short waves that emanate from the origin of my touch, and you graze the corner of the ocean with your short reach finding yourself in its embrace before I jump in after you, but you only continue to float further and further from my grasp that you seem to be a year away and that every step I take you retract five more years away until finally we’re at the end of our lives and it’s the world on fire and we’re finally within reach of our futile lives and yet you still retract and turn your head away looking into the sunset blaze of seven billion lives and you tell me that I’ll never be where you are again.
Fargin (Yiddish) To wholeheartedly appreciate the successes of others
I’m glad you’ve got it all together. I’m glad you’ve lived this long. I’m glad you’re here with me. I’m glad you can tell me all about your day. I’m glad that you can just take your taxes, laugh and pay. I’m glad that you don’t worry about student fees. I’m glad that you’ve found a nice community. I’m glad your friends love you. I’m glad you love your friends. I’m glad you’re eating well. I’m glad you haven’t made your way and fell. And if you do, I’m glad you can pick yourself up. I’m glad you can continue. I’m glad you can wave your hands and tell me hello. I’m glad you can wave your hands and tell me goodbye. I’m glad you’ve stopped crying. I’m glad you’ve stopped trying. You already have it all together, you’re already winning. I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re glad. I’m glad you’ve held on so long. I’m glad you’re there, and I’m here. And I’ll be there, eventually. So when I do find you there, please be glad for me as well.
Mencomot (Indonesian): Stealing things of small value for fun
Its red. Its big. It’s pretty. And I know it costs less than a buck, and I know if I wanted it I could ask her. But I walked slowly, brushed past her, and slid my hand into her pocket, extracting the pen. I apologized and turned. I slipped the pen into my pocket, and continued down the tables. Everyone was working diligently tucked into their seats. However my itch was gone. My breathing settled and I knew I had gotten my fix. I left the library and took in a breath. It tasted like smoke. I turned towards a tired looking man who was puffing out clouds. His hands were filled with dirt, but the cigarette he consumed was white as snow. The itch came back. I walked slowly towards him.
Shouganai (Japanese): When something is inevitable so why worry about it. It cannot be helped, nothing can be done about it.
You wake. You sleep. You laugh. You cry. You eat. You drink. You open. You close. You walk. You fall. You listen. You ignore. You know. You don’t. You study. You play. You mend. You break. You want. You need. You get. You lose. You remember. You forget. You enter. You leave. You change. You stay. You smile. You frown. You wave hello. You wave goodbye. You love. You hate. You work. You can’t. You cheer. You can’t. You blush. You can’t. You relax. You can’t. You breathe. You can’t. You talk. You can’t. You scream. You can’t. You run. You can’t. You inhale. You can’t. You inject. You can’t. You cut. You can’t. You jump. You can’t. You win. You lose. You live. You die. You see another day. You find another way. You know its futile. You know it takes time. You manage to strive. You find a light. You know no one else matters. You know your life is yours. You find the world through two words. You can.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The feeling upon meeting someone that falling in love with them is inevitable
Have you ever gotten the feeling of nostalgia from a stranger? Like you’ve met them before on another day, or perhaps on the bus, or passing by in the window of a car, or even during the transition between classes, or at the coffee shop at the corner, or at the pizza stand in front of the plaza, or at the convenience store picking up a bag of chips, or sitting by the bench at the park gazing at a group of bees chasing each other in a loop, or at the train station where everyone’s waiting patiently behind the yellow line and they keep telling you to stay behind that yellow line, or at the ice cream store near your home, or at the bus stop looking at her phone, or in your class at the front row, or sitting down with a cup of coffee no sugar one milk, or eating a slice of vegetarian, or picking up a yellow lighter for whatever reason, or smelling the line of sunflowers that shine in yellow in the slow sunlight, and finally you know that you love them.
Komorebi (Japanese): The light that filters between the leaves of trees
I traced my feet over the softened dirt of the prior day’s rain. The smell of wet leaves and branches filled the air. It was like opening a year old closet. My feet sunk the more I stood on the precipice of the park. If I walked quickly the soles of my shoes would only be dirtied for a moment. However, each step raised the mud onto the sidewalk. And the faster I got the more I sought to see how fast I could go and the more my pant legs took the brunt. I filled the air with sloshes as I came to the large tree that overlooked much of the park. Its trunk was wet with whittling pieces of bark ready to fall and form its own carcass. I let its bark scrape against my fingers. The splinters forged onto my skin. I leaned against the grain of the earth with the gentle winds swaying the earth worms and cigarette smoke. A parting cloud gave way for the sun to peek through towards me. It stopped midway in the tree. I raised my hand to reach for that light, but all energy sunk. I closed my eyes. The wind struck again, and when I opened, the light beamed into my eyes. It beamed through the leaves, struck me fast, and in that moment I whispered to the call of the sun. I’m here.
Zenith: An imaginary point directly above a location
I can’t imagine where I’ll be in ten years. You can’t? No, can you? I can’t. I can’t imagine where I’ll be in ten years, but don’t you think it’s fun to anyway? Sparks my interest, sure. What do you have in mind? In ten years time, I think we’ll still be here. You think we’ll still be on top of our high school roof? We’d be long graduated, probably in another country. I know I’ll be. Fine, you might leave the country, but you’ll come back. No, maybe I’ll find my dream job outside of this hell hole. Maybe I’ll settle down with a nice man, have two children. No. You’ll be right here. You’ll find your way back eventually. You’ll take a vacation. You won’t have two children. This is why no one likes you. You’re still talking to me….Then what? No matter where you go, you find yourself back here. You don’t know why. I really wouldn’t. But your feet drag you here. Almost like a magnet, as if you were born to stay here. And you’re happy to find yourself back here. It clears your mind and you don’t know why. Now wouldn’t that be a fine thing to have. You know what you just described? A home. So what about you? Where will you be in ten years? Well, I guess that’s for you to decide. My turn, huh? Okay, let’s give it a shot. You’ll be right here, lying down and watching the clouds. Oh yeah? And you’ll be happy. All your worries and pain will go away as your eyes watch those white fluffs. This is your home after all. This is where you belong.