To my future daughter:

By Sharmley Lopez (’22) 

Today I have burdened you, and for that I apologize.

On your shoulders stands four hundred years of suffering

of arms stretched out seeking a tender home

of shoes too small to dance with

in a body that doesn’t feel like your own

In your veins there are 400 years of shipwreck.

of drowning bodies. of tears in The Atlantic.

of salt on wound. of languages lost.

When you learn of this,

you will be angry

You will be angry, and you will want to forget

Reach for the butter knife and slice up the bilingual

This blood only knows one country

You will not be a product of this nightmare, you say

Two fingers in the throat and out spills your ancestors’ tongues

Still pierced by the shackles that kept them twisted

There goes our spanish dripping down the drain

You will want to belong, so you don’t care

I am American, you say

At nightfall, history whispers in your ear

You want to stop the ringing, but this sorrow song never stops

Your mouth, once full of feast and promise

Sits flat and fruitless in the moonlight

My daughter, should I remind you…

This is a country of men who traded hoods for a badge

who eat stars and stripes and bullets for breakfast……

In a country that doesn’t love you

You must love yourself

Y cuando te des cuenta,

Que esta idioma es tu piedra

Una obra de arte

Un pedazo de tu tierra

You will realize

That your Spanish is your god-given gift

That mother-tongues are mother-tongues for a reason

Even when it’s sloppy, even as it grows

You are the bridge between generations

The magic vessel between two histories

To my daughter:

Today I have gifted you, and for that I will not apologize.

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