Language is the poison, and my mind became the antidote
tainted in a stuffy elementary classroom
Oppression deposited in a 10 year old mind (minds. we were so many)
No one will take me- us- seriously with a heavy accent, you said
and you thought you did us a favor, gracias
I loved school, then, foolishly assuming it was the crib of education
I feared the
I mutilated my tongue to sound like the world wanted me to sound–
a promised future, a prestige
the accomplishment of imperialism
Fear lulled around my rolling r’s, my strong y’s.
Setting aside the Spanish that by divine intervention was sprinkled in my veins
Coveting a foreign language,
the one I use now to get your attention
your politically corrected respect.
This elementary classroom, this education blinding my eyes with another country’s flag
planting a rifle in my hands
Shoot. Let your aim be culturally bland
Murdering a barely grown persona
You congratulated the death with diplomas.
You failed to tell me that this respect and praise would end like Cinderella’s charm at the strike of brown skin.
Que tonta (it sounds more natural when I simply call you a fool)
Now, you are offended
Now, when you listen to my tongue—the one you designed—denouncing your
h a t e
Now, when you expect me to mute myself because I’m different, because I made it, because I’m not t h e m
Now, when my voice lures you into confidence, when you open your
Your English is so good!
Now, when you step back as if slapped at my response
I would drain out all of these words to retrieve what was rightfully mine
You wanted English.
Now, I will force you to listen.