Kevin Blankinship: To Arabic, An Abortive Dear Jane

I’ve had lovers before—
a taste of French in second term middle school,
a dalliance with Spanish on and off
till high school graduation,
even a long term courtship—two years—
with Portuguese,
Brazilian Portuguese,
lilting song.
But then you, Arabic.
It took a full month just to learn your letters,
curlicues wrapped up in full-throated bursts—
ʿAyn. Khaa. Qaaf. Ḍaad.
Once imagining I could tame you with a flick of the wrist,
soon I learned – fateful day! – that you
wouldn’t give in so easily.
And so I found my destiny. And my demise.
Fourteen years I’ve tried to quit you,
sworn off a thousand times your nominal sentence,
your diptote, your false iḍaafa;
promised myself ease and comfort:
Latin perhaps, or even a bit of Dutch.
But you wouldn’t.
And so I saw in myself the horrible taste for toil
that lay in wait the whole time.