Written by: Jasminne Mendez
Dear Texas, little Mexico, please don’t take
my Spanish away. Yo hablo español. I speak
Dominican. Rolled “r’s” and missing “s’s” punctuate
every loud como tu ‘ta, thrown
against your ears when you ask me once again
¿que dijiste? What did you say? As if a
Mexican and a Dominican spoke two different
tongues. So I’ve learned to adjust for you.
Slow down for you. Elongate the vowels, articulate
accents, and staccato every consonant like a mariachi
trumpet for you. Replace my childhood language with
words that won’t ring in your ears like dropped bombs
and try to fit in for you.
Guineo is a plátano. A plátano is a plátano.
Biscocho is a pastel. A pastelito is a tamal.
Salsa is not the fire in your hips but flames that
burn your lips and tickle the back of your throat.
Ahurita means later instead of now. And I drink orchata
instead of morir soñando through a popote never a calimete.
But please, dear Tejas, little Mexico, don’t take my Spanish
away. Because it echoes in my teeth like the last thump
thump of conga drums in a merengue. Because it bounces,
bounces in the mouth like a bachata not a bolero.
Because the words bubble on my tongue like a
steaming sancocho on a sweltering summer day
and make me feel full.
Jargon like guachimán, zafacón and pollina melt around my
gums and sit like impacted wisdom teeth I refuse to extract.
You spoon-feed me pinche elote, sopa pillas and raspas that collect
like unwanted cavities. When all I want is maíz, yaniqueques y un
maldito frio frio to brush my teeth with. This Spanish is the legacy of
my grandfather, the conversations I will remember with my
grandmother and the only estate my Do-Mexican children will ever
inherit. Because their Abuelita Rosario will cook arroz con
habichuelas and call it kindness. And their Mexican Grandpa Mendez
will stuff frijoles in a tortilla and call it love. While their
father and I will invent a new, decolonized, virgin language,
put it in a pot, name them “frijo-chuelas,”
and call it home.