A Poem for You: Bilingual/Bilingüe


Bilingual/Bilingüe BY RHINA P. ESPAILLAT My father liked them separate, one there, one here (allá y aquí), as if aware that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart (el corazón) and lock the alien part to what he was—his memory, his name (su nombre)—with a key he could not claim. “English outside this door, Spanish inside,” he said, “y basta.” But who can divide the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from any child? I knew how to be dumb and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed, I hoarded secret syllables I read until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run where [...]