He’s finishing his
last sentences in Spanish.
He never spoke it with us;
saved it for drinking buddies and brothers,
for secrets and music.
It was the language of
birth, self, and derision.
No children, grandchildren
were going to be denied
bathrooms and bank loans
because a different language
brought by different conquerors
brought us down.
He spoke a wry sort of English,
limited, under his breath, and did
not seem to mind that we turned
pocha y pocho
as we came out,
derided as we are by
these people called real Mexicans,
who want their American hyphenated
or not at all.
But he doesn’t remember English now—
Spanish from the hospice bed
stings the ears in its sweet,
A lilt of yet one last example
of all the distance between us.
(originally published by Huizache Journal)