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,

exclusionary sound.

A lilt of yet one last example

of all the distance between us.

(originally published by Huizache Journal)

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