Issue 18 | Summer 2016

My Cousin Sets Me Up With the Woman She’s Sure is the One

When, unfortunately, I tell my date
I know some Spanish, she says,
“I’m a native speaker.”
I hide my big mouth
with a glass of water. She says,
“Say something.”
“¿Es una examen?” I ask. “Yes,
it is a test, basically,” she answers.
I say, “It’s only our first date—
are we ready to speak a romance
language?” She stares, and her black
eyes are so gorgeous I think
I could swim in them for a year.
“It’s just that I want to construir
una buena impresion,” I say.
It’s possible that this woman
is my last chance. My next birthday
is a scary one, and no one
has whispered my name
for a very long time.
Today’s horoscope suggested
I learn to live happily alone.
“I don’t know where you heard
‘build a good impression,’
but it should be quiero impresarte.
Because I often use self-deprecation
as permission to fail, I say,
“Estoy horrible con la gramática.”
“It should be Soy,
she says, “Estoy would mean
‘I’m only currently horrible.’
Soy is correct.
It means
‘horrible for always.’”


Brad Modlin is the author of the book of poems Everyone at This Party Has Two Names from Southeast Missouri State University Press. (Fall 2016) His poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Denver Quarterly, RHINO, Indiana Review, DIAGRAM, and others. To contact him or schedule a reading, visit


Filed under: Poetry