I try to explain the difference           between pant & pants
why the former isn’t simply            one pair

but what the lungs do           with fear or excitement
why clothe isn’t           a singular noun

but what most do to the body           each morning
she calls on a Wednesday           needs help

with an assignment           for her third English
beginners course where she meets           twice a week

her classmates from countries           with names beautiful as hers
I try to make the language           clear to my mother

as she one day           —before my English took hold—
explained to me that           I did not in fact make friends

with a girl named Sorry:

but we were on the playground and she hit me, fue accidenté,
         y me dijo “I’m sorry” & when someone says I am, yo soy—

that’s not how this works I remind her

when she asks           if the plural of dust is dusts
she asks me to conjugate           love

I love you           love he loves           she loved
we loved you           have loved           I am loving

she wants to know how           a word can be both
a thing and an action           like war & mistake

although I can’t           put into words in Spanish
how I know the difference           so I tell her I have to go

and I go & she goes           & I haven’t taught her anything        

Amezcua, Eloisa. From the Inside Quietly. Sundress Publications, 2018