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How To Turn Spanish Into English
Forget the rolling R’s you practiced in front
of the mirror when you were a kid,
they are too sharp for the scraps of dry culture
that will be flung at your feet like burnt crumbs of bread
S’s are nothing more than lisps, fleeting moths of the tongue
that will leave you craving greener landscapes
and kaleidoscopes of flapping dresses
Keep your voice trapped in the back of your throat.
Shove it so deep down that the border becomes
a blurry line you used to know. This shouldn’t be that hard.
You will learn to hate the way the words get stuck to your tongue
like frijoles to the pot. You will learn to know
when people have tuned you out because all they hear
is the remains of a language they do not know.
Forget ever saying a word by how its spelled,
not even language is loyal now.
Sit in the dark as you say the correct pronunciations
out loud to yourself because no one will listen
if the border is still stuck inside your mouth.
They will forget that this language still feels foreign,
that you can’t find a tune to fit your new voice. They don’t care.
You are in America now. Not America the continent
but what the United States calls their country
as if white is the only shade their eyesight allows
Come to love the way these new words feel in your mouth
before they ask you why it is so hard to forget Spanish.
Notice that they are a little stiff. They taste of day old cookies
and bald eagles. Forget the real pronunciation of your name.
Whisper the American one into your pillow
until you still hear it floating in the air at night. Scratch it
into your skin until it is no longer brown.
Until you never even existed without it.