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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

Abuelito and Abuelita play hopscotch with the words
Lime and chili words, blood, sun, and dirt words
They brought across the desert to los estados unidos
The pale land, without gods
They brought the words to California
Before faces as dark as molasses filled the streets

 

Mexico hid under the bed in a suitcase
But the words wouldn’t die
La lengua lived on
Secret, and blossoming
Behind the walls

                    My tongue is bleached

Soy gringa
Sin historia, sin cultura, sin, um, identity
No hablo very good

Where are my roots?
My skin is white and my words are white
Though Mexico thrums in my veins

Pero,
Si no tienes la lengua, no existes

Las Positas College, Livermore, CA
Faculty Contact: Toby Bielawski, English Department