Sounds Like | Jennifer Lang

I read one syllable at a time first-grader fashion: ga-go-a-im, which makes me think of the game charades—sounds like garinim, Hebrew for sunflower seeds, a common Israeli snack—here, in my favorite shabby-chic Jaffa boutique called Sharon some-tongue-twisting-last-name-I-can-never-remember, where I fondle handmade journals and pads of paper, each inscribed with poetic words and biblical verses like halomot (dreams) and ve-hiye erev, vi-hiyei boker (there was evening, there was morning), so with my American manners and accented Hebrew, I ask the sales clerk what the G-word means, and she says, Longings, sure of herself, her mastery of my tongue, when, as the locals say idiomatically, the asimon—the obsolete phone token—falls and meaning and origin merge, as in K’mo ani mitgagat alich? I miss you? and she nods, then I nod, pigeon-chest-puffing proud of myself because this ancient abjad—22 letters written only of consonants—acts like a woman in midlife, warm and fuzzy on Wednesday, a hormonal mind-fuck on Thursday, and today, a too-hot-for-my-taste Sunday in May, she’s a tease; I know the infinitive lehitgaageya—to miss—and how to conjugate it, and I understand the lexicon centers around a three-letter root from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs form, but sometimes 2 and 2 do not make 4 and living in a foreign country forces me to be nimble-minded and connect dots between things like missing and longing. Deep sigh. I take a last look at the notebook and leave, hunger settling in for the night.

American-French-Israeli hybrid, Jennifer Lang writes. Three-time Pushcard Prize nominee. Flash in Atticus Review, CHEAP POP!, the Maine Review, Miracle Monocle, Pithead Chapel, Headway, and the Citron Review. MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Assistant Editor for Brevity. Founder of Israel Writers Studio.