Forked Tongue Frequencies

 

I think to say salud

pero ‘bless you’ leaves my lips

 

(too well trained I guess)

 

I go up to registers at taquerias

hesitation in my throat: jittering lingering in my fingers

 

(sorry, my tongues are all tied up today)

 

sometimes I speak Spanish

& it’s offensive

but sometimes                         it’s home

 

sometimes I speak English

& it’s offensive

but sometimes                         it’s home

 

 

I speak Spanish, not Italian—I only kind of get it

 

& when I was in elementary school

people would say I spoke Spanish like an Italian

 

& what is it                 about Italians anyway—

 

rossese di dolceacqua, black clothes, gold chains & ✞’s

eight course meals, kissing cheeks & pesto alla genovese

Chiavari chairs, clockmakers & at least one Guido in the family

 

always too loud                      always laughing too much                   always drunk & chain smoking

 

my family always told me

I’m a bad Italian—always have been

 

because I hate black olives & raw tomatoes

& my mom cooks tamales on Christmas eve

 

 

As a kid I was always too shy to speak Spanish with my friend’s families—their accents, no accident—the art of articulation formed by folding lips and fast moving mouths fascinated me

 

sometimes that feels like home—&

 

sometimes I feel like                                       I’m home

 

but anxiety mounts and I forget to ask the important questions:

 

como te sientes…

                                      como te sientes…

 

half inside the joke, half-inside outsider—2 sides of the same coin—honorary relative

 

(relative to your notion of family)

 

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