My English has sharp Ts like espinas de nopal
How can I soften the sharp Ts in my sound?
The ones acquired at school—
where teacher used to say
‘keep your accent for flirting’.
When you aren’t British, or Latina, or coloured, or white,
What are you?
Latinos, the ones with lovely skin
like dulce piloncillo
call me a mongrel.
Dad’s Green fingers
Mum’s red rage
What does that make?
Dad’s ojo alegre
The usual story.
People look down at me with a little mocking smile:
too apasionada, drámatica, oh she’s so funny
Bisnieta de Andaluz, hija de madre blanquísima.
Descendiente de Moros.
Sometimes I envy a los Latinos del otro lado del océano,
them who aren’t separated from their roots
por todo un pinche mar Atlántico,
solo un muro/a wall, or a river called Rio Bravo,
a torrent that in winter vanishes
then, when warm, springs from the ground
like a deep wound across the desert,
like my tears/ my rage
lies in wait behind mi sonrisa
then pounces upon some unsuspecting victim,
never the appropriate target.
Mi rio está lleno de ahogados.
Only when you start withering you notice your roots are drying, dying,
then you might choose to sing to todas las brujas and remember:
comes the lullaby humming softly like the Rio Bravo
at the beginning of spring,
tales in tow,
of All who attempted the crossing.
I lay my espinita de nopal,
that sharp stabbing little accent
that hides under my plumage
like a cockerel spur,
across the parched river bed
so that the water, when it comes,
will blunt its edge,
I sing and wait.